Wife awarded divorce settlement that reflects lavish lifestyle

A wife has been granted a divorce settlement that is fair to her husband but reflects her lavish lifestyle during the marriage.

The case involved a couple who had been married for 12 years. The husband was from Saudi Arabia and the wife was an American. Their matrimonial home had been in England, and the wife and daughter continued to live there.

The husband, who was terminally ill, had been extremely wealthy before the marriage and had paid for them to live a very lavish lifestyle. The wife had a London flat and a US property in her name. She sought £62.8m to buy a London property as her main home, additional funds to buy an English holiday home and to retain her US home, and capitalised maintenance of £127m.

The issue was the extent to which the exorbitant standard of living enjoyed throughout the marriage should be reflected in the court’s assessment of the wife’s future needs.

The court held that her needs had to be assessed by reference, among other things, to the marital standard of living prior to the breakdown of the marriage. However, it was also important to be fair to the husband.

This meant that that the wife should be awarded enough to provide a comfortable, even lavish, lifestyle, but not necessarily at the same exorbitant level that she had enjoyed during the marriage.

This meant she had no realistic entitlement to an annual income that replicated the marital standard of living. It was not appropriate to include either capital or income provision for a second home in the UK. She could not expect to continue to travel by private jet, or for the husband to pay for teams of staff at her various homes.

The court ordered that she should have a housing fund of £18m to buy a London property. She could meet her reasonable needs with a net annual budget of £2.5m, which would reduce by 33% after 10 years and by a further 25% after a further 10 years.

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