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Marrying (or divorcing?!) for money

View profile for Lisa Collins
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On 21 April, The Sunday Times published the long awaited ‘rich list’. The familiar names of David Beckham and Jamie Oliver all predictably featured on the list but somewhat unexpectedly, so did ten women, thought to be the ‘richest divorcees’.

At the top of the list is Slavica Ecclestone, the former wife of Fomula 1 chief, Bernie Ecclestone. She received a settlement of £740 million. The marriage lasted 23 years…..I make that £32 million for each year of marriage. Also on the list is Irina Malandina who received a settlement of £155 million after 16 years of marriage to Roman Abramovich, and Galina Besharova, the ex-wife of the late oligarch, Boris Berezovsky, who received a record UK settlement of £100 million in 2011.

The increase in the size of the settlements being received (and their recipient’s resultant inclusion on the ‘rich list’) is thought to be as a result of a ruling made in 2000 when the courts established the “yardstick of equality”. This is otherwise known as the 50:50 starting position of the courts when asked to determine the division of a divorcing couple’s assets.

Is this the correct way for the courts to decide cases of such high worth? I think so; marriage is a contract and, save for the few exceptions, a married couple should share everything, financial or otherwise. I suspect Mr Ecclestone (and the ex-husbands of the nine other women on the list) may disagree…..

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