The news reports today that a British court has ruled in the divorce of Sir Paul McCartney and his wife of 4 years, Heather Mills. Mills was awarded $48.6 million. Some excerpts:
Mills declared herself “very, very, very pleased” with a payout that amounted to about $34,000 for each day of her four-year marriage. But some legal experts were surprised the former model, who has been widely portrayed in the British media as a gold-digger, did not get more.
“In the scheme of things, it’s quite surprisingly low,” said Patricia Hollings, a divorce specialist with London law firm Finers Stephens Innocent. “It is only offering her about 6 percent of his assets. In terms of high-wealth cases it’s very low.”
A Family Court judge awarded Mills a lump sum of $33 million, plus the assets she currently holds, worth $15.6 million. Mills had sought almost $250 million, according to a summary of the ruling; McCartney had offered $31.6 million, including Mills’ own assets.
The settlement was at the low end of many experts’ estimates, which varied between $50 million and $100 million. The brevity of the marriage, and the fact most of the former Beatle’s fortune was made before he met Mills were factors considered by the judge.
Mills, 40, raised eyebrows by firing her legal team late last year and representing herself in court, but legal experts said that was unlikely to have been a factor in the award.
“I don’t regret representing myself,” Mills said outside court. “I’m just glad it’s over.”
“All of you that have researched know that it was always going to be a figure between 20 and 30 million” pounds, said a visibly agitated Mills. “Paul was offering a lot less than that … So we’re very, very, very pleased.”
McCartney also was ordered to pay $70,000 a year for his daughter, and to pay for the child’s nanny and school fees.
British divorce settlements are generally lower than U.S. ones. But Mills’ payout is only about half the biggest contested divorce settlement in British history — $90 million that insurance tycoon John Charman was ordered to pay his wife of almost 30 years in 2006.
Geraldine Morris, a lawyer and editor with LexisNexis Butterworths Family Law Service, said the judge had probably taken into account the relative brevity of the Mills-McCartney union.
“Whilst Sir Paul McCartney’s wealth is substantial, the majority of his assets where acquired prior to the marriage and in that regard the case differs substantially from the case of Charman … where the family wealth was built up during a very lengthy marriage,” Morris said.[McCartney and Mills] insisted they were in love [at the time of their marriage], and McCartney said they had not signed a prenuptial agreement.
The couple went to court last month to decide on Mills’ share of his fortune, which had been estimated at as much as $1.6 billion.
Judge Hugh Bennett, however, found that McCartney’s total worth, including business assets, was about $800 million.
When Mills and McCartney separated, they insisted the split was “amicable” and said “both of us still care about each other very much.”
However, this is not the most expensive celebrity divorce. Forbes magazine estimates the Michael and Juanita Jordan pending divorce settlement to be in the $150 million range while Neil Diamond’s divorce in 1994 came out about the same.
One thing to note here is that neither side in the McCartney-Mills case got what they were demanding and they spent a lot of time and money in doing so.