A couple from Melbourne have run up no less than AU $225,000 (£133,000) in legal fees arguing over a car in in a drawn-out divorce dispute that has now lasted longer than their marriage.
The courtroom clash has now been ongoing for more than two years. The pair, both in their 20s, were married for just 19 months.
Many of the joint assets of around $1 million came from the wife’s family but ownership of a luxury” German car” proved to be a stubborn sticking point, the Herald Sun reports.
In court documents, the pair were given Chinese pseudonyms. While ‘Ms Liu’ insisted she should keep the car (worth more than $100,000 or £59,000), he argued that instead he should get the proceeds of its sale as it had been registered in his name.
Family Court Justice Sharon Johns was uncomplimentary about the former couple’s behaviour, saying:
“On any view, both parties gained nothing from the pursuit of this litigation. In the aftermath, the parties have expended amounts on their lawyers greater than the sum in dispute and each has suffered the indignity of a two-day hearing.”
Both parties had attempted to deceive the court, she continued. Miss Liu had submitted misleading documents while former husband ‘Mr Bai’ had been untruthful about his income.
The Judge also expressed incredulity about the depths of the animosity between the former spouses.
“Such is the animus between these parties that each preferred to expend significant sums on their lawyers, in the wife’s case more than double the amount actually sought by the husband, and devote more than two years of their lives to the pursuit of this litigation rather than resolve their dispute prior to trial.”
“That this is so reflects poorly on both parties; their desire to save face has overridden commercial realities and common sense.”
Justice Johns ruled that Mr Bai should get a little half of the proceeds of the car sale – $42,480, leaving $34,520 for Miss Liu: a sum which, the paper points out, represents barely one fifth of her legal costs of $160,000.
The latter, from China, was living in Australia on a student visa. Mr Bai had a similar background and was also studying but had taken Australian citizenship. He had represented himself through most of the proceedings so his costs were considerably lower.