I’m a Celebrity…Get me out of here, but lets be fair and share in our divorce settlement.

It is refreshing to see a fair and sensible approach being taken by a celebrity in their divorce settlement agreement and insisting on privacy in such a sensitive situation.

As you may have seen in the press recently, Anthony McPartlin, better known as Ant from the household name ‘Ant and Dec’, is beginning divorce proceedings. Alongside their divorce, Ant and his wife Lisa will need to agree a financial settlement. It is rumoured that Ant’s net worth is in the region of £62 million. It appears that this is causing a media sensation, with it being branded the biggest ever celebrity divorce settlement in the UK. This is because Ant’s wife, Lisa, is likely to receive around a £31 million settlement.

Incidentally, this is nowhere near the fortune of the record for the highest value divorce settlement in the UK that had a settlement figure of £453.5 million awarded to a wife in a Court case last year. This did not even represent a full half of the assets!

You may ask how it is that a precise figure of £31 million can be assumed at this stage in Ant and Lisa’s case before they have concluded a divorce settlement. It is because the Court’s approach to matrimonial finance cases is that there should be an equal division of assets, at least as a starting point.

Cases can of course can be far more complex than this and there are a number of situations in which it can be justified that there should be an unequal division of assets in a financial settlement upon divorce. In Ant and Lisa’s case however, this is unlikely.

This is because the couple do not have any dependent children. It has sadly been documented in press articles that the couple had been trying for a baby; again it is refreshing for a celebrity to be so open and honest about their difficulties in conceiving and laying to rest any of the rumoured reasons for them not having children. Without dependent children to provide for, it is more difficult to justify there being a departure from equality in terms of capital assets being divided between spouses, when negotiating a divorce settlement.

Another feature of Ant and Lisa’s marriage that is relevant to the financial settlement is that there is clearly plenty of capital available. Ant and Lisa can both most certainly each survive and meet their housing and other financial needs with £31 million each behind them. Lisa is unlikely to succeed in arguing that she needs more than this amount of capital to enable her to live independently.

Potentially, Ant could try to argue that some of his wealth was built up before the couple married, given that they have been married for 11 years. However, the Court can also take into account periods of co-habitation prior to marriage and look at the overall length of relationship rather than just duration of marriage. Therefore, given that Ant and Lisa have been together for 23 years, getting together back when Ant’s fame had just begun as pop star, in the ‘90’s duo PJ and Duncan, Ant has built up the majority of his wealth during their relationship. Again, it is therefore unlikely that Ant would be able to argue that he should ring fence some of his wealth from a divorce settlement.

The situation would be different if they had entered into a valid pre-nuptial agreement, As Ant could then have kept specific assets separate from the marital pot, thereby avoiding them being shared equally.

For these reasons, there is very little chance of there being a fight about money between Ant and Lisa. However, the difficulty with our law is that there is no set formula. Every case is different and the outcome is never certain in a court case. That is why it is always best to try and agree a divorce settlement. Expert legal advice can help you understand the merits of your individual case when negotiating.

It is heartening to see that both Ant and Lisa are both approaching their separation and divorce so positively and amicably. Ant has acknowledged that he is willing to give half of his fortune to Lisa and does not want a drawn out Court battle. He wants to maintain their friendship and for both of them to walk away from the marriage positively. Similarly, Lisa has indicted that she does not want to fight. Hopefully, the couple will not be swayed from their sensible approach and will be able to reach an agreement without any need for Court intervention, other than approving the terms of their agreement. Even if they agree all of the terms of a divorce settlement, they will still need solicitors to draw up the terms of their agreement into a Court Order, known as a Consent Order.

If you would like advice about where you stand with a divorce settlement, contact any of our offices on the numbers on this website.

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