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Married to the Dragon, by Amanda McAlister

By Head of Family Law

Duncan Bannatyne is, apparently, getting divorced for the second time.  Setting aside the emotional implication, as a man reputedly worth in excess of £320m (according to the Sunday Times Rich List 2010) this divorce will be a serious financial matter.

We can’t know for certain, of course, but his wife is supposedly demanding an “allowance” of £1000 per day in addition to payments for their children, house and holiday home. Yet the marriage is a relatively short one – five years – and Joanne McCue would do well to bear in mind the pre-split financial expectations of Heather Mills McCartney and Oksana Grigorieva, mother of Mel Gibson’s 22 month old daughter.

Heather Mills thought she was in line for £125m and was awarded £24.3m (no small award in anyone’s book, even the ex-wife of a Beatle). Oksana Grigorieva was awarded $750,000, despite claims that she seeking $15m.

Bannatyne is now suggesting he will have to sack 43 members of staff to fund his soon to be ex-wife’s demands.  Whether such a (suitably) draconian measure is actually necessary will no doubt be examined by the judge who rules on the couple’s divorce. It may be that this is Bannatyne’s way of preparing the ground for a greatly reduced financial offer to his wife.

The financial expectations of women divorcing their incredibly wealthy husbands are often fed by reading about the divorce settlements of others. Many are encouraged, if that is the right word, by the landmark settlement of former WAG Karen Parlour, who secured a 50/50 split in assets with her husband Ray, maintenance awarded and one third of his future earnings.
 
But the Parlour case is an exception. The amounts of money involved were excessive, the settlement unique.  The judgement applies only to those who have very little capital but a great deal of earnings (often the case with successful footballers).

Bannatyne frequently boasts that he will not be leaving much money to his children in his will, as “most of it will go to charity”. He enjoys a reputation for toughness and shrewd financial dealings. The divorce courts will soon show if that reputation is true.

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