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Huge difference in estimated value of marital assets

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The case being heard in High Court between the non-executive chairman of the fashion designer Laura Ashley Holdings and his wife took a new turn when the judge handed him an order notice to make a divorce settlement offer within 21 days. This is the first order of its kind ever issued in the U.K., according to his wife's legal representative. For those in the Greater Manchester area following the story, the couple have so far spent three years and more than £6 million arguing over the divorce.

He was seeking a divorce in the Malaysian courts while his wife insisted that it should be done in the U.K. She was granted leave to divorce him here after a decision in Family Court granting a decree nisi. Once the 77-year-old executive makes his settlement offer, his wife will have 7 days to reply with an acceptance or counter-offer. The couple have been married for 43 years and have five children together. She is claiming that she should receive half of his multi-million pound fortune. 

Unless the couple can come to an agreement over the financial settlement, investigations into the value of the estate will proceed. He has stated that his net worth is £66 million, but his wife says that he receives an annual income of over £5 million and his assets are worth more than £440 million. The judge said that an investigation into the valuation of his global properties and investments would be exceedingly expensive for the couple and take up valuable court time.

The basis of a financial settlement rests on the full disclosure of assets from both parties in a divorce. When complex assets include offshore properties and investments, a solicitor who has experience with these types of matters may be able to provide beneficial legal advice to an estranged spouse.