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High-profile divorces

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High-profile divorces: where conflict can be directly proportional to the number of zeros in a bank account

Although most divorces brought to the courts do not exceed tens or hundreds thousands of pounds in finances, sometimes cases can involve millions and draw the attention of the media.


A case that has been reported on for a long time and continues to gain media coverage is that of Tatiana Akhmedova, who should have received £453m following a ruling in her divorce case in 2017.


This just might be the biggest award of its kind made in the UK; however, she never received the money awarded to her. A more recent judgment found that her ex-husband tried to conceal his wealth with the support of their eldest child and using a network of companies. The ex-husband was reported to have transferred assets, including a superyacht and an art collection, into the ownership of a trust, and was ordered to hand over hundreds of millions to his ex-wife. Their son was also ordered to pay around £75m to his mother for helping his father.


Another case is that involving the Daily Telegraph’s owner, Sir Frederick Barclay, whose divorce involved a £100m award to his ex-wife. The court found Sir Barclay to be in breach of a court order when he sold his luxury yacht and kept the proceeds.


A further conflict arose as the parties disagreed on whether the ruling should be published, as Lady Barclay argued in favour of her freedom of expression and the public’s right to know how badly her ex-husband had behaved.


The judge decided to make elements of the ruling public, but not to publish the full document – being the ex-husband a public figure, the judge stated that he should have been aware of the potential consequences of disobeying a court order and behaving in a reprehensible way.


On a different front, the fourth wealthiest person in the world, Bill Gates, and his wife have filed divorce proceedings in the United States. The couple have established how assets are to be divided in a separation contract, which has not been made public.


This shows that parties can still avoid animosity when splitting finances – although it can be argued that a fortune of some £86bn would always give both enough resources to keep their standard of living regardless of whether they were split 50-50.


Each divorce is unique, whatever the financial position of the parties. As can be seen from the cases above, money cannot solve all problems, and might, instead, create bigger ones and more conflict between the parties.