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Couple goes bankrupt in 10-year divorce dispute

An Australian couple have bankrupted themselves during a decade-long divorce dispute.

Since their 2006 split, the couple from the eastern city of Brisbane have spent more than AU $1 million on legal costs. In order to continue funding their bitter dispute, the 53 year-old wife borrowed $700,000 on a loan taken out against the couple’s matrimonial home. Her 67 year-old husband was not aware she had done this.

The couple’s expenses exceeded the assets they still had by a significant amount and this has resulted in the wife facing bankruptcy and the husband living in rented accommodation, “fatigued by litigation”.

At the conclusion of their financial settlement hearing, Justice Michael Kent said the wife’s pursuit of “baseless claims” against her husband had been primarily responsible for the “extraordinary amount of costs” and “remarkable delay” in bringing the dispute to a close. The wife had spent six years pursuing her husband and three business partners in the Queensland Supreme Court.

Prior to the final hearing, the wife has spent $634,000 on legal fees and the husband had spent $235,000 defending himself. The total went past the $1 million mark after the wife was ordered to pay the costs of both parties for the hearing. The judge said this decision was based on her “singular lack of success [pursuing her] wholly unmeritorious claims”.

The wife now has significant debts and even though the judge awarded all of the remaining assets to her husband, she still owes her former spouse nearly $80,000, Australian newspaper the Herald Sun reports.

This case came to a close at a similar time to a long-running dispute between a divorced couple in England. At the conclusion of Wyatt v Vince, the wife was awarded £300,000 although her former husband believed that due to the legal costs involved in the case the award was a waste of money.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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  1. Andrew says:

    Bleak House, anyone?

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