Judge asked to decide whether wealthy businessman is already divorced

A Russian businessman claims his estranged wife cannot divorce him in England because they are already divorced.

The man told a High Court judge that he divorced his wife in Russia 12 years ago.

His estranged wife, however, disagrees saying that obtained a “fraudulent” divorce in Russia.

The woman, who is also Russian, argues that she should be permitted to launch divorce proceedings in England.

Mrs Justice Parker has been asked to decide whether any divorce in Russia is valid and is analysing the dispute at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

A decision is expected to be made a later in the year.

The pair were in court a few months earlier battling over the custody of their two teenage sons and had reportedly run up close to £1 million in lawyers’ bills.


Wife who signed pre-nup but got £90million in divorce wants £25million more

A wife who signed a pre-nup before marrying a multi-millionare has been given £90 million after their divorce.

However, she is fighting for more as she claims that amount is “unfair.”

Property tycoon, Gerard Versteegh and Camilla Versteegh were married for 21 years.

A court battle ensued after they split in 2014. Mrs Versteegh was handed around £90m worth of cash and assets in January last year.

Tim Bishop QC, for the wife, told three senior judges, “Mrs Versteegh is a mother and homemaker. Mr Versteegh is a successful businessman.

“They were married in Stockholm and immediately moved to England, where they have lived ever since.

“On the day before the marriage, August 27 1993, Mr Versteegh turned up at his bride to be’s home with a pre-marital agreement.

“She signed it without any legal advice or the opportunity for any legal advice.”

Mr Bishop added: “The marriage broke down in 2014 in traumatic circumstances. The trust between the parties and ability to co-operate was permanently lost.

“These feelings have only been exacerbated by a long and acrimonious divorce.”



High Court judge to rule on validity of Islamic wedding ceremony

A High Court judge was asked to determine whether an estranged couple who took part in an Islamic wedding ceremony in a London restaurant are validly married.

Nasreen Akhter, 46, claims her “Islamic faith marriage” to Mohammed Shabaz Khan, also 46, was a “valid marriage”. Mr Khan, however, has contested this.

Mr Justice Williams is analysing the case at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

Lawyers have said the ruling will have implications.

The judge heard the couple had taken part in a ceremony in a restaurant in Southall, west London, in 1998.

Mrs Akhter, who wants a divorce, said the ceremony had been conducted by an Imam before about 150 guests.

She said Mr Khan had become her “husband” and he had considered her his “wife.”

She said, “From my limited understanding of Islam at the time it did comply with all the requirements. I saw him as my husband. There was no question in my mind at all. He always introduced me as his wife.”

Mr Khan wants to block Mrs Akhter’s divorce application on the basis that “we are not legally married.”

Judge says rich couple’s divorce battle a waste of time

A judge has described a divorcing couple’s battle over assets as a “scandalous waste of court time.”

Barbara Cooke, 58, and Michael Parker, 55 have reportedly spent almost £2m on lawyers’ fees while fighting over assets worth £6.6m.

Mr Justice Holman said that the pair had “completely lost touch with reality.”

The dispute was heard at a pre-trial hearing in the family division of the high court.

Mr Justice Holman said, “They have spent a third of their wealth slugging it out. These people have completely lost touch with reality. I don’t know where the responsibility lies; it’s probably shared.

“This is heading for catastrophe.”

Mr Justice Holman added that he estimated another £200,000 would be spent on lawyers if the divorce went to trial.

“This whole case is a scandalous waste of court time. Sometimes one can see cases where people are just absolutely determined to go on and on and on. I don’t know on which side the fault lies but this seems to be that sort of case.”

“I have reached the conclusion that there is no credible explanation for the fire on the evidence before the court other than it was set by persons on the direction of Mr Parker.”


The Tick Box Divorce

Divorcing couples will be asked to fill a tick box form online detailing the money and assets they each want under sweeping plans to streamline the system.

The newly-established ‘Financial Remedies Courts’ will then use the ten-page document to rule on the financial side of a divorce.

The form allows spouses to tick boxes asking for maintenance payments, a lump sum and a share of a property.

The plans have been drawn up by senior judges led by Britain’s top family court judge Sir James Munby, the president of the High Court’s Family Division.

Sir James said that ‘Form A’ would be approved for use early next month, with the first Remedies Courts to begin running as part of a pilot scheme that may also start next month.

Sir James added that ‘the complete delinking … of divorce and money, so that they are started and pursued by completely separate processes, will proceed with all possible speed’.

A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service said: ‘We are working with the judiciary on a pilot scheme, creating specialised courts to deal with financial matters arising from divorce and separation.’

Officials indicated that ‘plans are still at an early stage and no decisions have been taken’.


Co-op launches even quicker online divorce service

Couples seeking “quickie divorces” can hasten the process with a new online service launched by the Co-op.

The fixed-fee digital service from Co-op Legal Services allows people to start uncontested divorces online from home, supported by phone-based advice from experienced solicitors.

Co-op already offers online wills and powers of attorney.

Co-op estimates the service could cut the amount of time it takes to complete an uncontested divorce by a third, from six to nine months, to four to six months.

Tracey Moloney, head of family law at Co-op Legal Services, said,

“Couples have often already considered divorcing for a number of months, but they then hold off announcing their plans until after the festive period, mainly to avoid upset among family members.

“We do see a number of divorce inquiries coming in the early hours of the morning, as people want to feel like they are moving things on.

Divorce isn’t something to be entered into lightly, but once a couple has made up their mind to get a divorce, we can begin to offer them the advice and legal support they need, at a time to suit them.”

The service has been designed to use comprehensive English and avoid legal terminology. The online tool guides customers through a set of questions, using language tailored to the individual’s circumstances.


Divorce and the Bitcoin

The digital currency, Bitcoin, will be considered like any other asset in divorce proceedings in England and Wales.

According to familylaw.co.uk as Bitcoin, like stocks will fluctuate, the value of Bitcoin to be considered in the proceedings would have to be determined by a judge. This valuation is likely to be made for the point in time either at the date of the petition for divorce or any other date that the judge deems sensible looking at the circumstances of the case.


Familylaw.co.uk further added that courts can factor in the value of the asset, whether by accounting for its value in other property, or ordering a cash payment which could be satisfied by liquidating Bitcoin.


It has been highlighted that although Bitcoin is not linked directly to the identity of the user, courts will require full and frank disclosure of owning Bitcoin.



Cost of divorce hits £14,500

According to a new report, the average cost of a marital breakdown is £14,500.

Aviva’s Family Finances report found that the cost of divorce has increased 17% since 2014 when divorces in the UK cost, on average, £12,432.

Aviva added that increases to legal bills were partly behind the rising divorce costs seen in recent years.

Paul Brencher, Aviva UK said, “The breakdown of a marriage or long-term relationship is likely to be one of the most emotionally demanding life events for people who experience it. Such circumstances are made all the harder due to the lack of preparedness by many.


“Without taking away from the primary emotional strain, there are other significant costs which have the potential to cause further disruption to family units.

“Aside from the costs of a new home, separating couples across the UK spend £1.7bn getting back on their feet after the breakdown of a relationship on costs including legal fees, buying a car or paying for a newfound need for childcare.

“As a consequence, it is little surprise that they are drawn towards their savings for support or borrowing from friends and family. Many additionally find themselves priced out of the property market.

“While it may seem completely unnecessary to plan for such an unfortunate life event, it is important that both partners in a relationship take an active interest in their financial affairs, even if one tends to take the lead.

“Ensuring a better mutual understanding of household finances can make navigating the process more manageable if the relationship takes an unforeseen turn, while preventing long-term financial planning from going off course.”


Ex-husband awarded half of former wife’s fortune

A woman has called for divorce laws to be modernised after her ex-husband was awarded a £2million settlement.

Julie Arnold is challenging ‘out of date’ legislation that saw her adulterous husband given half of their £5.45million fortune, despite being married to him for less than four years.

She is calling for divorce laws to be adapted to fit changing relationship trends with couples marrying later, having shorter marriages and having had no children.

Ms Arnold told The Telegraph,

“Matrimonial law relies on a 1973 act and distributes wealth based on case law involving a couple who married in 1961 and stayed together for 30 years.

“Our life is different now and there will be more and more couples who divorce after shorter marriages before they have children.

“It was still a lottery win, just for being with someone.

“If we’d stayed married, we would still have kept our finances separate and he would not have had his £2million.”




Divorce searches increase online in January

According to research by divorce support service Amicable, over 40,500 people will search “divorce” online in January.

The figures further reveal that the cost of divorce to the taxpayer is rising and currently costs each adult £1,820.

A distinct increase in online searches for divorce can also be seen in data provided by Google Trends, which shows January 2016 and January 2012 as the two most popular months for divorce searches in the last ten years.

Katy Daly, co-founder of Amicable, said,

“In January, after the hype of Christmas, dissatisfaction peaks as a consequence of lots of time spent together, financial pressures, desire to make changes and unfulfilled expectations.

“Relationships don’t suddenly go wrong but January provides the first opportunity to reflect on issues that have been brewing and put on hold for months. It usually culminates in ‘divorce day’, the first Monday back to work after the Christmas break.”

She added that the current divorce system in England and Wales is bumping up the costs and making the process unnecessarily hostile.

She said that a change in the law to enable couples to divorce without having to blame their partner is long overdue and would make the system more contemporary, bringing it in line with other western countries.