The daughter of high profile Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone has brought her six year marriage to an end.
Petra Ecclestone married businessman James Stunt in Italy six years ago. A prenuptial agreement was signed before the ceremony. But when the relationship broke down the family feared an extended courtroom clash over the couple’s multi-billion pound fortune, which includes luxury homes in Los Angeles and Chelsea.
But the estranged couple unexpectedly reached an out-of-court settlementt before the final hearing began, so all that was required in the end was a five minutes hearing in court to endorse the settlement and sign the decree nisi. Neither party was present and the terms of the agreement are confidential.
Mr Ecclestone told Daily Mail:
“I’m just glad it’s over. Petra is too. She has been very tolerant and has been concerned about James.”
Speaking afterwards, Mr Stunt, 35, admitted he was “devastated” and said he still loved Petra and their “wonderful” children. Their “most important responsibility” was now “‘being mother and father” to their three kids, who are aged between four and two. He hoped to remain friends with Petra he added.
Mr Stunt is head of an international gold bullion firm.
Judge Robin Tolson QC had previously warned the couple against a rancorous divorce dispute. When told today that the soon-to-be-former couple had settled, the Judge said:
“I’m delighted about that and I congratulate both parties.”
Stowe Family Law Senior Partner Julian Hawkhead said:
“Whilst all that the public has seen is the parties’ legal teams arrive at court for a five minute hearing, many hours will have been invested behind the scenes leading up to that hearing, dealing with the exchange of financial disclosure, the raising of any further enquiries into various matters, agreeing the value of assets and then most importantly, negotiating a financial settlement. Those negotiations will have been led by the barristers in the case and supported by the solicitors, whose knowledge of the facts and the relationship they have developed with their clients will have been invaluable in helping the parties reach an agreement.”
“In some ways handling divorces with large assets is easier. There are no concerns about one of the parties not having enough money to buy a house or enough money to live on, the issues that affect most people in this country who get divorced. However the way in which assets are held, where businesses are involved or there are complex trust structures often makes the process of understanding what is actually in “the pot” more complicated.
Also the wealthier the client, often the more they can afford to run up costs arguing more obscure legal points that most people would be unable to afford. There is the temptation to risk running a more extreme argument knowing that if you lose in court, you can afford to pick up your other half’s legal bill. In doing so, it is so easy for them to lose their dignity, to have their personal lives talked about in the press. Most people who can ill afford legal bills will take a far more pragmatic approach towards reaching a settlement. So what has been achieved today, and behind the scenes by this couple and by their legal team is to be applauded.”
Photo of Bernie Ecclestone with Vladimir Putin and the King of Bahrain by Kremlin.ru via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence