26 May 2020 - Article
Even family lawyers want love to last forever. This was one of the lessons to be learned from the fascinating BBC 2 documentary ‘The Millionaires’ Ex-Wives Club’, first broadcast on 17th January 2018.
The programme examines the complex and high profile divorce cases of Lisa Tchenguiz and Michelle Young, with comments throughout from Withers family partners Diana Parker and Julian Lipson. Despite the basic approach of equal division of marital assets between the husband and wife, Lisa and Michelle both endured difficult fights to get what they felt they were owed, with Lisa accepting a compromise in order to end the dispute. In Michelle Young’s case, the pursuit of her now deceased ex-husband’s wealth goes on.
‘Money and happiness and love are three separate words,’ warns Diana. ‘They don’t come together very often.’ The documentary opens a window on to the lifestyles of the wealthy but, amongst the luxury, it seems evident that what often matters most is a fair agreement that offers a sense of conclusion. Diana explains: ‘If you’ve been in a long marriage, you’ve each contributed your bit, then it has been a partnership of equals.’
This is what Diana and Julian will help their clients fight for, if it is their aim, but Julian warns that there is a ‘professional obligation to tell people when they’re wrong,’ and not to let clients pursue a case that the lawyer knows cannot be won.
It is with some regret that Julian adds that: ‘it is quite shocking that love can turn to hate so quickly, and that people’s memories are short.’