Wednesday 7 June 2006
Miles Kington: If you want to get rich, don't marry a divorce lawyer
Most husbands are inexperienced, first-time husbands. Most divorce lawyers are hard as nails. A pre-nup with a lawyer? Fat chance
Ever since the recent historic rulings on wives being divorced from wealthy men, I have been deluged by letters from anxious women. Some, of course, are merely anxious to marry me and get their hands on my fortune, but most of them have genuine worries about their prospects, so today I have asked a divorce specialist to help sort them out.
Q. Before I met and married my husband, I was a simple secretary in his law firm. He made me give up my secretarial career in order to be a wife to him and a mother to his children. In order to combat boredom and keep my brain working, I started writing fiction, and I am now lucky enough to be a best-selling women's author under an assumed name.
His career has also flourished, but now he has met another woman and wishes to bring our marriage to an end. Naturally, I wish to take him to the cleaners, but as I am now very wealthy from my writing, I do not have a very clear claim - after all, my career has only flourished since I got married, and prior to that I did not have a career at all, so the court might take the view that it was marrying him that gave me the incentive to get rich.
My husband, by the way, has no idea that I am a published writer.
Do you think I have a good chance of getting my hands on a chunk of his money?
A. No. But I do think you have a cracking plot for your next novel.
Q. Talking to wives who have been through the divorce courts seeking compensation, I find that they all advise making a pre-nuptial agreement, which, though not legally binding, sways the judge a lot. But they all say that whatever sums they do secure, most of it, alas, goes in legal fees to their grasping lawyers.
As I intend to get married shortly to a very wealthy man whom I hope to divorce a few years later, it has occurred to me that perhaps my best course of action would be to sign a pre-nuptial agreement now with the lawyer I hope to use during my divorce case, limiting the depredations he will make on my winnings. I mean, my settlement. What are my prospects of doing this?
A. None at all. Most husbands are inexperienced, first-time husbands. Most divorce lawyers are hard-bitten and hard as nails. A pre-nup with a lawyer? Fat chance.
Q. As a matter of interest, how do the wives of divorce lawyers fare?
A. Nobody knows. All women who marry divorce lawyers sign a pre-nuptial agreement never to say anything.
Q. Is it possible for me to divorce my husband before the World Cup starts and marry him again after England is knocked out?
A. That is a very shallow and frivolous inquiry. Marriage is about money, madam. If money is not involved, I am not interested and nor should you be.
Q. Before I got married, I had a flourishing career in public relations. I had started my own firm, which rose to have an annual turnover of several million pounds. Then I got married to a financial journalist.
A. And you gave up your career to further his progress?
Q. No. He gave up his work as a financial journalist in order to look after our home and bring up our children.
A. Ah. And now he wants a divorce, and a smacking great compensation pay-out from your fortune?
Q. No. We were unable to have children, so he now wants to go back to work as a financial journalist.
A. I see. And you don't want to let him go back to work?
Q. No, I am quite happy to let him do so.
A. So what is the problem?
Q. No problem at all. I just thought it would be nice to hear from a happily married pair.
A. Madam, you are a trouble-maker and the sort of person who would drive a divorce lawyer to drink. Thank goodness there are not many like you.
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