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.
It seems as though they both made out in the deal. I have been following this story since it’s inception at http://www.firstwivesworld.com and it always seemed as though it was going to be a lot more but I think that this outcome seems fair to both parties. We will never know all the details of the marriage and divorce but at least this is over and they both can move forward with their lives.
The judge’s decision has been posted and here’s an AP article which talks about it:
Judge says Mills twisted the truth
3/19/2008, 6:59 a.m. ET
By GREGORY KATZ
The Associated Press
LONDON (AP) — A judge’s ruling in the bitter Paul McCartney-Heather Mills divorce case shed new light Tuesday on a miserable marriage, saying Mills twisted the truth when convenient and made “exorbitant” financial demands.
“To some extent she is her own worst enemy,” wrote Judge Hugh Bennett. “She has an explosive and volatile character.”
Mills, who lost part of her leg when she was hit by a motorcycle, cast McCartney as an abusive, alcoholic husband who cruelly made fun of her disability. But the judge made clear the angry assertions rang hollow.
In a devastating indictment, Bennett called Mills’ testimony “not just inconsistent and inaccurate, but also less than candid. Overall she was a less than impressive witness.”
By contrast, the judge praised McCartney, 65, for “consistent, accurate and honest” testimony in the ruling, made public after he rejected Mills’ attempt to block its release.
Calling Mills’ demand of $250 million from McCartney “exorbitant” in light of their four-year marriage, the judge said her claims may have been inflated because of her estranged husband’s stature.
“The wife … must have felt rather swept off her feet by a man as famous as the husband,” he wrote. “I think this may well have warped her perception, leading her to indulge in make-believe. The objective facts do not support her case.”
He said Mills, 40, had “unreasonably” expected that she would be able to live the deluxe McCartney lifestyle for the rest of her life even after she divorced the pop star.
“Although she strongly denied it, her case boils down to the syndrome of ‘me too’ or ‘if he has it, I want it, too,'” he wrote in awarding Mills $48.6 million.
Mills maintained she needed $6.4 million a year for herself and her daughter, Beatrice, as well as multi-million dollar properties in London and New York, and money for an office in Brighton, on England’s south coast.
Instead, the judge said Mills could get by on $1.2 million a year and one property, worth $5 million, in London.
The former model also sought millions of dollars in lost income, asserting McCartney had forced her to turn down numerous lucrative business opportunities. But Bennett rejected the claim, saying the former Beatle used his considerable prestige to actively promote his wife’s career, not quash it.
Mills claimed, for example, that McCartney made her turn down a $2 million offer to model bras for Marks & Spencer, the British retail chain. But the judge said there was no evidence to support the claim, which McCartney denied.
McCartney said the couple jointly decided it was not a good idea for Mills to model lingerie while they were having a relationship.
Bennett also said Mills greatly hurt her market value and potential earnings by attacking McCartney during two televised interviews last fall.
“To some extent she is her own worst enemy,” he wrote. “She has an explosive and volatile character.”
“She cannot have done herself any good in the eyes of potential purchasers of her services as a TV presenter, public speaker and a model, by her outbursts in her TV interviews,” he wrote.
The judge did not, however, punish Mills for reportedly dumping a glass of water on McCartney’s lawyer, Fiona Shackleton, in the final hours of the hearing Monday. Shackleton, who represented Prince Charles in his divorce from Princess Diana, emerged with wet hair from the hearing, and Mills joked she had been “baptized” in court.
Still, the ruling gave a sympathetic description of Mills’ childhood, describing how she left home when she was 15 and supported herself with various jobs, beginning work as a model at 17 and soon finding jobs as a television anchor.
The judge also recounted how McCartney, still grieving the loss of his first wife Linda, wore the wedding ring she gave him throughout the early years of his romance with Mills and only removed it when he married Mills.
The 58-page ruling offered an unprecedented public airing of McCartney’s finances — and showed just how far the former Beatle has come since his early days in Liverpool, when the band dreamed of someday scoring a top-10 hit.
McCartney has long been rumored to be pop’s first billionaire. Accounts unveiled Tuesday show him to be short of that goal, but still worth in the neighborhood of $800 million, with choice real estate holdings and an art collection of Picassos, Monets and other masters.
In classic British understatement, the judge described McCartney as someone who “composes, sings and plays musical instruments.”
He wrote how McCartney and his first wife, Linda, lived fairly modestly on Blossom Wood Farm in the village of Peasmarsh for many years and also had a property in London.
In the late 1990s, the judge said, the singer had properties in New York and on Long Island, as well as British properties in Rye, Somerset, Icklesham, Essex and Merseyside.
The judge said it was impossible to put a precise figure on McCartney’s vast financial empire, but said he believed it was worth about $800 million, far less than the $1.6 billion Mills claimed.
“There is absolutely no evidence at all to support that figure, or any figure anywhere near it,” he said.
Among McCartney’s holdings is real estate valued at about $68 million, bank accounts with more than $30 million, investments worth more than $68 million, and paintings, furniture, jewelry, horses and other assets valued at more than $64 million.
McCartney projected his net income for the year to be more than $10.6 million, the judge said.
In a statement to the court, McCartney said much of his current income comes from touring and that while his recent recordings have been well-received by critics, they have not been commercially successful.
He also said he does not have “day to day” control over many of his businesses, but is consulted on key decisions. He said the value of the music copyrights he holds has increased substantially, adding to his net worth.
He also said he wanted to keep all of his art collection because the works were collected before his marriage to Mills.
The court documents said Mills had an appraisal done of the collection that concluded it was worth $140 million, a valuation McCartney rejected. Mills also maintained McCartney gave her 30 of his paintings, an assertion he denied.
“I accept the husband’s evidence,” the judge said. “In my judgment he is entitled to have them back.”