Having already turned down the billionaire’s offer of £37m, former wife Christina Estrada is seeking five times that sum, enough to fund her alleged income needs of £6.5m a year.
The case is making headlines for her “excessive and exaggerated” demands, including a £68m house in Belgravia, £1m pa for clothes and £26,500pa to pay her mobile phone bills.
But it highlights the importance of properly preparing a client’s divorce case as to their future income and capital needs. This party is normally the wife, but there is no gender distinction and claims can be made on behalf of husbands as well.
London has attracted the super-rich divorcees like bees to a honey pot. Partly, this is because the English system insists on full financial disclosure from both parties and partly because it does not discriminate between the traditional male/female marriage roles of homemaker and breadwinner.
"In the majority of cases, the assets and income are divided by reference to the needs of the parties. But where there are excess assets, interesting issues arise."
Largest payout to date
Spouses can seek a share, sometimes even an equal share, of the other’s wealth and one of the factors the court must take into account is the standard of living enjoyed by the family. The court has discretion to make whatever orders it considers to be fair and this has served to build up a reputation for London as being the divorce capital of the world.
The largest payout to date is thought to have been that awarded to Mrs Cooper-Hohn in 2014, who received £330m representing about 36% of her financier husband’s £870m fortune.
In the majority of cases, the assets and income are divided by reference to the needs of the parties. But where there are excess assets, interesting issues arise, such as whether the unique effort of one party to the creation of the family’s huge wealth should be rewarded with a larger share of the capital, as was the case in Cooper-Hohn.
It would seem that the Estrada decision will not be based on equality either – her case is seemingly calculated by reference to her needs rather than the sharing principle. She is seeking the capitalisation of her maintenance claim so that she would receive one immediate lump sum in lieu of regular payments in the future.
When it comes to the preparation of a client’s case, the first stage is to complete the Financial Statement or Form E, the detailed form used to disclose all of their financial circumstances.