Judge describes couple’s divorce case as ‘financial suicide’

A couple have been told they are committing financial suicide by running up huge bills in a fight over which country should deal with their divorce.

Aloke Ray and Dr Charoo Sekhri met through an online dating agency in 2008. They married in 2009 and lived in London, but later moved to Singapore. They have one son.

The relationship broke down and Dr Sekhri issued a divorce petition in London in 2012. She wanted proceedings to be conducted in the UK but Mr Ray objected. The couple have since spent an estimated £860,000 between them in disputing the matter.

The High Court has now ruled that as the couple are both living in the UK, Dr Sekhri can pursue her petition here.

However, the judge, Mr Justice Holman, expressed concern and astonishment at the spiralling costs of the case, which have already exhausted a quarter of the couple’s combined assets. He said: “They have each spent the staggering sum of about £430,000 on worldwide legal costs.

“The substantial forensic struggle throughout the hearing was painful to observe. These parties are successful and prosperous but they are not multimillionaires.

“Somewhere, the husband will have to make fair provision for his wife. They would be wiser to concentrate on that rather than arguing about the jurisdiction of the fight.”

This, of course, is an extreme case but it is not unusual for people to behave in a way that appears irrational if they allow their emotions to get the better of them.

That is why the Government is trying to encourage more people to use mediation to help them reach an amicable settlement instead going to court.

Mediation is an informal process in which a trained mediator such as a solicitor helps the couple to resolve difficult issues. The mediator’s role is to act as a facilitator to help the couple share information and reach an agreement. It is not to offer advice or favour one side or the other.

That is why it is best for each side to retain their own solicitor so that they can get legal advice in between mediation sessions. Once the couple reach agreement, the mediator will record it in two summaries. Both husband and wife should then give those summaries to their respective solicitors so they can form the basis of a consent order.

Mediation may not be suitable for everyone but it can certainly help to diffuse tension, and as it enables couples to reach agreement more quickly it can often help to save money as well as reduce trauma and heartache.

Please contact Charles Goodbody in our Warminster office on 01985 214444, or Chris Jolly in Westbury on 01373 865577  if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of mediation and family law.  Or email cgoodbody@mulaw.co.uk or cjolly@mulaw.co.uk.