For those who can afford it, divorce proceedings can end up being a very expensive game of chess with neither party giving much ground until the bitter end. When it’s the super rich, lawyers often are often powerless in calming clients down as they battle for the multiple mansions, mega yachts and private jets.
I have a sneaking suspicion some lawyers don’t mind these fights as they know their bread will also be healthily buttered at the end of the day. Lets take a look at the all time monster Aussie divorce settlements and the crazy legal costs that were incurred. I’ve taken every amount and put it through our trusty inflation calculator so you get the 2018 worth of the payout. And here we go, let’s start with the ‘lightweight’… if you can pardon the pun.
NUMBER 5 – The Strahan Divorce
With legal fees between the two of $35 million and 12 years in court, the Strahan’s managed to whittle away a sizable part of their fortune in what is now considered the longest running divorce case ever before the Family Court of Australia. Family Court Judge Paul Cronin who presided over the matter decided in December 2017 that ‘After 12 years of waiting, and at huge expense, the husband is entitled to have the matter concluded’. Mrs Strahan, who met her ex-husband in the late 80s and married in 1994, employed the help of lawyers from a congo line of 15 different firms during the lengthy battle over assets.
Initially she asked for spousal maintenance of $278,000 per WEEK of which some $70,000 would be spent on the care of their only child, who was autistic. Judge Cronin decided that because Mr Strahan entered the relationship with established successful businesses, he was entitled to keep a bigger slice of the couples $100 million fortune.
Mr Strahan was awarded $38 million in assets and his Swiss chalet while Mrs Strahan was awarded five properties and cash, valued at $11 million. Prior to that she had previously received $13 million, in an earlier judgement.
NUMBER 4 – The Packer Divorce
Billionaire James Packer has never been lucky in love. And so it was in 2007 when his six-year marriage to his wife Erica ended, just months after moving into their dream $50 million mansion at Vaucluse.
Unlike the Strahans above, the Packers, who at the time had three young children, didn’t have an acrimonious divorce.
Apparently, there was a very healthy pre-nuptial in the tens of millions if things went south. One source at the time also stated that, with a personal fortune of about $5 billion, James had promised to provide generously for Erica and his children.
Without big legal bills for either party, we’ll keep this comfortably at number 4.
NUMBER 3 – The Norman Divorce
Prior to their divorce proceedings in 2007, Greg Norman and his first wife Laura were married for 25 years. That should sound a warning that a big payout to the wife is on the way. There were lots of games played by both parties in court and the legal bills were in the millions.
Settlement took a year to be finalised and Mrs Norman’s lawyers claimed that Greg was trying to delay signing the deal in the hope she would accept a lesser amount.
There was even a claim dismissed by Mr Norman’s lawyers that he had locked her out of the house and stopped her credit cards. Norman’s lawyers countered in a petition to the court which stated bluntly,”The wife did not teach the husband to swing a golf club”. Ah, the games that get played.
Finally, with her $103 million dollar settlement (2018: $118 million), there was plenty of money for Laura to buy a new home with new locks far from… the golf greens.
NUMBER 2 – The Gibson Divorce
What’s not to love about Mel Gibson?
After all isn’t he, as the 2001 movie he starred in, “What Women Want” ?
Well, not back in 2009 when his wife of 29 years Robyn filed for divorce, stating ‘irreconcilable differences’. This surprisingly occurred the week after he publicly stepped out with a pregnant Oksana Grigorieva.
When the Gibson’s married in 1980 there was no pre-nup signed, so it was a big time payday for Robyn who under Californian law became automatically entitled to half of the couple’s $850 million dollar fortune. Mel didn’t put up a big legal fight, so it is estimated Robyn walked away with a $425 million dollar settlement (2018: $459 million). Less the estimated $200,000 in pesky lawyer fees.
NUMBER 1 – The Second Murdoch Divorce
The biggest divorce payout naturally belongs to the biggest whale with the longest marriage. Billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s second wife, Anna Torv (now Anna Mann), received $1.7 Billion (2018: $2.66 Billion), mostly in News Corp stock, when the couple’s 31-year marriage ended in 1999.
But Rupert also gets an additional special commendation prize thrown in because only weeks after the divorce became final, he married a woman 38 years younger, Wendi Deng. Murdoch and Deng divorced 14 years later, and while she received two luxurious homes in the settlement, the couple’s pre-nup dictated that she wouldn’t get quite the payoff Anna received.
While Murdoch appears to have grasped the wisdom of prenups, he apparently hasn’t given up on the institution of marriage. Just recently, he married Jerry Hall, the former model and mother to four children with her longtime partner, Mick Jagger.
Let’s hope at 87, Rupert finally gets some life long wedded bliss.