Couple spend half a million pounds on "destructive and disproportionate" divorce

22 October 2019, 18:02

The divorce has been ongoing for five years
The divorce has been ongoing for five years. Picture: Global's Newsroom
Maddie Goodfellow

By Maddie Goodfellow

The couple spent more than £500,000 on lawyers after their 12-year marriage broke down.

Two "highly educated professionals" engaged in an "emotionally bruising" divorce that led to more than half a million pounds in legal bills.

A Court of Appeal Judge ruled that the pair's fights over the last 5 years regarding their children and money were "destructive and disproportionate".

Lady Justice King, in a ruling on the last stage of the case, said both were highly educated and had high-earning careers, Mr Read worked in the City and Ms Panzone was a solicitor, when they married in 2002.

But she said evidence showed that their comfortable lifestyle could not be maintained, largely because of the "intolerable burden" of legal costs.

Mr Read had brought the case to the High Court after he complained about decisions made by a lower-ranking judge.

Appeal judges ruled in Mr Read's favour in some aspects, however he lost a fight over a £150,000 lump sum he had been ordered to pay.

In a written ruling after the case, Lady Justice King said: "This is yet another case where a highly educated couple with young children has engaged in lengthy, destructive and disproportionate legal proceedings.

"These disputes have continued for over five years with emotionally bruising and expensive litigation in relation to both money and the children of the marriage."

She added: "The costs to date are in excess of £500,000."

Many of the legal issues related to a flat, worth nearly £300,000 in Panama.

Mr Read is said to have bought the flat when the pair were married.

But they said legal ownership of the flat was vested in a company and the only shareholder of that company was Mr Read's mother.

A lower-ranking judge had ruled that Mr Read was the "sole beneficial owner" of the flat and should pay his ex-wife a £150,000 lump sum.

Mrs Read had appealed, with the support of Mr Read and they said the lump sum order should be "set aside".

Appeal judges decided Mrs Read was the "legal" owner of the flat but that the flat was a "financial resource" which Mr Read had or was likely to have.

Lady Justice King added: "The lump sum order in favour of the wife remains and it is now a matter for the husband whether he requires the legal owner, his mother Mrs Read, to sell the property in order to raise the money with which to satisfy the order, or whether he chooses to raise it in some other way."

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