Skip to main content

Sarah Ingram tells the Telegraph why Britain became a top divorce destination


The UK has long been the world’s top destination for divorces. Ever since the landmark White v White case in 2001, marriage became viewed as a partnership, with equal contribution from husband and wife, whether through financial means or taking care of the family.

Contact the Author(s)

Winckworth Sherwood partner Sarah Ingram, explained to the Telegraph,

“The House of Lords decisions in 2001 of White v White and 2006 of Miller v Miller; McFarlane v McFarlane marked not only the turning point for the financially weaker party in English divorce cases, but also the start of London becoming known as the divorce capital of the world. Up until that point, the English Family courts would only order enough to meet the financially weaker party’s needs, which meant that the child carer was often disadvantaged over the wage earner.  However, the courts have been able to use their wide and flexible discretion to keep up with the times, despite no change having been made to the Matrimonial Causes Act since 1973. It is this discretion and the judges’ ability to deal with all worldwide assets such as beneficial interests, even if they are not held legally by a spouse, that maintain its position as a popular divorce jurisdiction, along with the court’s reputation and ability to award maintenance, something that is not seen, for example in Scotland. Russian divorce courts are not able to deal with assets that are not held legally by a spouse so for oligarchs holding millions of pounds in trusts, this means only part of their wealth is taken into account in any Russian decision. As we have seen in the past year, the spouses of two of Russia’s richest oligarchs have both made applications to the English courts for their assistance for that very reason (Tatiana Ahmedova (having the highest award ever made until the recent decision in the Al Maktoum case) and Natalia Potanina). In high profile cases such as the Al Maktoum decision, Princess Haya was able to obtain a financial top up following her divorce in Dubai, something that is again particular to the English courts. Also, she, along with other high profile spouses of powerful people, could ensure a fair decision uninfluenced by third parties.”

The list of some of the biggest awards made in England that are public are:

1. Al Maktoum (£554m)
2. Ahmedov v Ahmedova (£453m)
3. Cooper v Hohn (£337m)
4. Barclay v Barclay (£100m)
5. Estrada v Juffali (£75m)
6. WH v HM (£73m)
7. Chai v Peng (£64.5m)

Read the full article, How Britain became the world’s top divorce destination, in the Telegraph.

Share this article

Contact the Author(s)