It’s the world’s capitol for fish and chips, bangers and mash and now… irreconcilable marital issues. Blimey! London is officially the millennial mecca for divorce. But why? Well, like most of the globe’s (no theatrical pun intended) greatest questions, the answer is primarily financial.
It all began in the year 2000, with the benchmark divorce case of “White vs. White.” Despite the airy and light names attached, the ruling here starkly changed the way divorce law would be viewed forever. Here the final verdict decided that the “money earner” wouldn’t get to keep all the extra capital after the basic legal financial requirements had been satisfied (ie: alimony, division of property assets), but also the “surplus”, or leftover, cash would be equally allocated to each party. What this means is that literally everything gets spilt down the middle. This left the former Mrs. White glowing with happiness, and Mr. White red in the face.
Once this had been established as the norm, and word spread internationally of London’s newfound divorce policy, unhappily married people began to flock to the “Swinging City” in droves.
Several extremely high profile cases would soon follow. Most notable would be Heather Mills versus Sir Paul McCartney. Much to the chagrin of the Beatle loving public, Ms. Mills walked away with a sizable fortune (48.6 million dollars) and all Paul could do was “let it be.”
Shifting the paradigm to a different gendered spouse having to potentially relinquish half their assets, the spilt of Guy Ritchie and Madonna was an intriguing case. As Madonna was clearly the “primary money earner” in this relationship, Guy could’ve easily attempted to usurp the Material Girl’s material wealth under the new British policy. Yet he chose not to, citing that he makes his own money; possibly out of an amicable decision or just plain male pride. Either way, he didn’t Snatch that much loot.
The divorce cases have not just been relegated to U.K. citizens. London has become the epicenter for “divorce tourism,” as one out of every six cases involves foreigners that have landed in London specifically to end their nuptials. Not to say that both parties willingly end up there; only one person needs to file divorce, and the other is then obligated to follow suit. This has angered a lot of English judges and legal officials, as the courts are becoming inordinately tied up with just such cases.
Thus far, the most substantial award, foreign or otherwise, went to the former spouse of Boris Berezowsky, the Russian oligarch. This case was settled in 2011, with the settlement weighing in at approximately £220m. That’s POUNDS, mind you. Oh niet!
All this being said, the rules are not necessarily in abject black and white (aside, of course, in the “White” case). Each case seems to have some leeway. Pre-marital and pre-nuptial agreements are not always officially binding – which can work heavily in the person’s favor who obviously never wanted to sign the thing in the first place. The ruling Judge has a lot of influence on exactly what gets divided and how, as well, as the rules can be subject to wide ranging judicial interpretation. Another factor that benefits the lesser money earner, is that usually there is a requirement for full financial disclosure (in other countries the onus here can be placed on the person who files as the one responsible for proving the other’s financials). All of these things combined can result in giant lump sums reluctantly finding their way from one spouse’s bank account into the other’s.
The most momentous case has still not been decided. The former Miss Malaysia filed for divorce in London, seeking restitution to the tune of 500 million British pounds. Her husband, Mr. Khoo Kay Peng, has counter-filed in their home country of Malaysia, where he hopes to get a ruling that would ostensibly be drastically in his favor. If the Kooky Penger gets his way, this could have a major and far reaching impact on the London divorce craze. Crikey!
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