For richer and richer

Modern marriage is supposed to be a match of equals, so how come rich wives are scheming to take the money and run? By Hettie Judah

IN THE world of increasingly equal opportunities, if you want to have a really spectacular divorce you're still better off going to Belgravia. The super-rich bitches' fascination with the marital departure lounge is hardly surprising, given that it is a drama almost totally concerned with the one thing that gives them identity and importance: c-a-s-h.

This month Harpers & Queen, the parish magazine for the Knightsbridge set, has published a set of instructions lovingly detailing how the adoring spouse can best prepare to screw her husband for every penny he has, should he ever stray from the leash. Suggestions provided by a top divorce lawyer include:

1. Live as expensively as possible; your settlement will depend on the standard of life to which you have become accustomed.

2. Photocopy any document you can get your hands on, particularly if it is of tax interest.

3. Track his movements next time you visit Geneva; knowing the banks he visits will help you track down his assets later on.

4. Consider "forum shopping", basing yourself in a country whose legal system is sympathetic to the kind of settlement you hope to win.

5. Coerce your husband into giving you a lump sum, which you can then set aside, the better to fund your divorce later if you have no independent assets with which to hire a legal Rottweiler.

6. Hold a "beauty parade": set up a series of meetings with top divorce lawyers. Once you have paid for their time, confidentiality clauses will prevent them from being able to represent your spouse.

All charming stuff, particularly bearing in mind that this plan of action is to be set in motion before your husband has even started slavering over the hired help or entertaining your best friend to breakfast.

To illustrate the necessity of subterfuge, Harpers cites the example of Victoria, former wife of Earl Spencer, who is suing her previous legal firm for negligence. She is claiming that had she sued for divorce in England instead of Cape Town, she could have won a considerably larger settlement. Le beau monde is also shuddering at the ordeals of Jerry Hall, who approached her divorce so under-prepared that Mick Jagger even managed to cast doubt on whether they were married at all.

These two women are exceptional cases, both of whom suffered considerable psychological torment. It is all very well advising them after the act, but it is obvious that neither woman indulged in cynical subterfuge precisely because they were trying to make their marriages work, and they should be applauded for it, however ill-advised their actions may seem in retrospect.

Given the brevity of the marriage between Andre Agassi and Brooke Shields, even though the couple maintain that they are still good friends, it is not impossible that some form of prenuptial divorce preparation took place.

That Harpers & Queen magazine should consider printing such advice casts the role of modern marriage into confusion. The obeisance of Sophie Rhys- Jones aside, the whole Mr and Mrs game is now generally seen as a proper working partnership. Perhaps stimulated by the debate over the special financial needs of single mothers, attitudes toward old-fashioned gender roles have relaxed somewhat in the last few years, and now looking after children, running the home, and oiling the wheels of a spouse's career are again seen as an acceptable life choice for a wife or husband. And God forbid anyone who accuses you of not working.

But if marriage is to be conducted as a business partnership, it seems insane for one of the partners to be investing his or her energy in planning for its destruction. In the real business world it would be absolutely unacceptable to stitch someone up in this manner; not only does it indicate a terminal lack of trust in the partnership, but it is quite simply bad business practice. Nowhere, outside a marriage, will people take all the money and run from a partnership, knowing full well that that meant never being able to work - or, indeed, get married - again. Such behaviour is a throwback to the bad old world where girls didn't have the mouth, education or opportunity to earn themselves a living.

Their aptitude for the great divorce marks out the world of the super- rich as the last true repository of Stone Age gender stereotyping, whereby women will still go all out to separate a blonde-loving fool from his money as swiftly as possible, and where, accordingly, men still have cause to believe the worst kind of misogynistic stereotype, that of a lying, cheating wife who is after only one thing.

Arts and Entertainment
Above the hat of the toy gibbon, artist Mark Roscoe included a ‘ghost of a bird’ and a hidden message
art
Arts and Entertainment
Alien: Resurrection, Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder
film
Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished

TV reviewGrace Dent: Jimmy McGovern's new drama sheds light on sex slavery in the colonies

Arts and Entertainment
Australia's Eurovision contestant and former Australian Idol winner Guy Sebastian

Eurovision 2015Australian Idol winner unveiled as representative Down Under

Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Former Communards frontman Jimmy Somerville
music
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Public Service Broadcasting are going it alone
music
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl
filmFirst look at Oscar winner as transgender artist
Arts and Entertainment
Season three of 'House of Cards' will be returning later this month
TV reviewHouse of Cards returns to Netflix
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford will play Rick Deckard once again for the Blade Runner sequel
film review
Arts and Entertainment
The modern Thunderbirds: L-R, Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John in front of their home, the exotic Tracy Island
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
    Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

    Lost without a trace

    But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
    Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

    Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

    Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
    International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

    Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

    Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
    Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

    Confessions of a planespotter

    With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
    Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

    Russia's gulag museum

    Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
    The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

    The big fresh food con

    Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
    Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

    Virginia Ironside was my landlady

    Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
    Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

    Paris Fashion Week 2015

    The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
    8 best workout DVDs

    8 best workout DVDs

    If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
    Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

    Paul Scholes column

    I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
    Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

    Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
    Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

    Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

    The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable