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Millionaires’ ex-wives vs the divorce courts

Last night’s BBC Two show Millionaires’ Ex-Wives Club profiled the former spouses of two wealthy businessmen and the drawn-out courtroom battles that followed the ends of their marriages.

Lisa Imerman fought her former husband Vivian for a share of his huge fortune. His original wealth had been made in the fruit juice industry before their marriage. But he subsequently made a second £250 million fortune during their time together, and when her nine year marriage ended Lisa sought 50 per cent of that. He offered her just two million.

After a contentious four year-battle, she settled for £15 million. The case is remembered amongst divorce lawyers for an incident in which Lisa’s brothers, Iranian-born businessmen Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz, downloaded a large quantity of documents from Vivian Imerman’s computer and gave these to her divorce lawyers. They were later ordered to return them, overturning a previous acceptance of such practices in divorce proceedings.

During the show Lisa said she had been content with the settlement, despite it being considerably lower than the amount she had originally sought. She had wanted to move on with her life, she explained.

The second divorcee profiled was Michelle Young the former wife of deceased international property investor Scot Young. By contrast with Lisa, Michelle continues her struggle through the courts despite the mysterious death of her former husband in 2014 . She has appeared in court no less than 65 times, convinced that her husband of 18 years squirrelled away billions overseas.

Stowe Family Law Partner Graham Coy said:

“Watching the show it might very hard to see any parallels with real life and what divorce can actually be like for the vast majority who go through this process day in day out. In one case there was simply enormous wealth and in the other a never ending search for wealth which might never have existed.”

“But there were a few nuggets of wisdom to be found which are universal,” Graham continued.

“First, avoid Court if you can. It’s lengthy, can be very brutish and enormously expensive. Secondly, never underestimate the emotional cost. Thirdly, always try to reach an agreement if you possibly can. And last but certainly not least, never forget the children.”

Millionaires’ Ex-Wives Club is available to view on iPlayer here.

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. stephen joyce says:

    if ever there was an advertisement for reform of the divorce laws ‘ millionaires’ ex – wives ‘ was it !

  2. D says:

    I’d love £15 million to move on with my life 🙂 …

  3. Andt says:

    Not satisfied with a lump sum but wants more…try being the father or the ex in all this..feels like you got nothing left after the courts award generous financial gains.
    (*Comment moderated)

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