Published: 16th April 2014
A high court judge has ordered a wealthy businessman to pay his ex-wife maintenance fees of £170,000 a year after he killed her pet ram at their home in the south of France.
The incident came to light following a private hearing at the High Court of London's Family Division.
After being married for 43 years, the couple's relationship appeared to be strained until the husband, following a heated argument, killed her pet ram at their home near Cannes. The judge said that his actions had pushed the relationship to a new low and that it had 'irretrievably broke down'.
The couple have spent the majority of their married lives living in the UK, having moved here from overseas in 1976. With an impressive portfolio of properties, including homes in Austria and France and a £15 million home in North London, the couple decided to relocate to their French home because of the wife's dislike of the British Weather - much to the disappointment of her husband.
The divorce petition was issued in London, as the wife insisted that this is where her husband currently resides, although for years he had claimed to the tax authorities that his primary residence was overseas - to which she claimed was 'complete nonsense'.
The husband spent more time in Britain then in any other country - with a total of 110 days in Britain over the past 12 months. The judge therefore ruled that his wife had an 'arguable case' that he lived here. The husband insisted that the proceedings should take place in Austria, as this is where his wife primarily lives and has two homes there.
The wife had put aside £500,000 to cover legal costs in Britain and has requested more than £390,000 in annual maintenance from her husband, which includes a substantial budget for clothing and footwear (£24,000), dining out (£18,000) and holidays and travel abroad (£70,000). She also requested that her husband pay her a further £170,000 a year to fund the rental of a London home and house keeper as she was unwilling to stay in their North London home as it was her husband's 'ambassadorial residence' when he visits Britain.
The judge threw out some of her claims and lowered the interim maintenance order to a total of £170,000 a year, stating that the two of them should be able to share the North London home - which includes two self-contained flats. The judge also said that he expected the couple to communicate their travel plans with each other in order to come to an amicable arrangement - via email.
The case is due to return to court at a later date this year - with the judge then deciding if the courts in Britain have the jurisdiction to hear the wife's divorce petition.
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