The £980,000 divorce

How to blow a fortune on divorce lawyers.

Divorce can be an expensive business. It was certainly expensive for Mr and Mrs Giles Kavanagh, as they once were, but now, after five years of court battles, are no longer. In the process of separating they have blown their entire fortune on lawyers.

What's so ironic about this case, leading to some gleeful commentary in the press, is that both Kavanaghs are themselves lawyers. But though acutely aware of the hazards of litigation, they ploughed on like gamblers convinced their luck will turn.

Talking to The Sunday Times, 47-year-old Anna Kavanagh summed up the facts of what was, essentially, a custody battle over three children: "We ended up in court. We spent £980,000. It was horrendous." In an interview, she described how the couple lost their £3.2m home in Kingston-on-Thames, and were left with only £90,000 between them.

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Kavanagh now lives in a rented house because she can't get a mortgage, while her Cambridge-educated husband, an aviation lawyer, has been left with "net debts". Their legal war was waged in multiple theatres: a county court, the High Court family division and the Civil Appeal Court.

As the cash drained away, one of the judges involved, Clive Million QC, commented: "They wrecked the ship, then turned their attention to the lifeboats The ship of marriage may founder, but this couple have driven theirs full-tilt on to the rocks."

Judge Million noted last December: "By 2008 they had spent £879,000 on legal costs and contested proceedings. Childrens Act proceedings had cost about £545,000 and Family Law Act applications cost another £32,000." Then a new round of legal wrangling ensued, said Lucy Fisher in The Sunday Times, which only ended this September.

Kavanagh is well aware of what's been lost. "Do you not think that I wake up at four o'clock in the morning thinking about the fact that I've lost half a million pounds and with that money I could have bought myself a house? Of course I think that. Of course I do. It torments me."

But she tries to be "upbeat", says Fisher: she doesn't want to be a victim and grins constantly in her "eye-catching purple top" which "clashes gloriously with her glac cherry mop". You'd have to be flinty-hearted not to feel sorry for her.

Five years ago she was "wafting" around a family home; then, disaster. "I didn't choose to go to court," she says. "My ex-husband issued proceedings to take custody of the children." Once battle was joined, it was hard to stop (especially as barristers, paid for their time, were in no hurry to recommend stopping). "At what point do you walk away? After the first month of negotiating? After the sixth month?"

In the end she ran out of money. While her husband came off best in the final spat over maintenance payments, anyway this was surely a case with no winners. But asked if she'd wished she'd stayed married, a "wry smile creeps over Kavanagh's face. No,' she says, laughing and shaking her head No way.'"

Tabloid money Mad Nad has lost the plot

In 1994, a former Daily Mirror journalist was jailed for 18 months for "swindling the newspaper group out of £138,000 over a four year period", says Jane Moore in The Sun. "His scam was to set up two bogus companies and invoice for articles that didn't exist.

Fast forward 18 years and it has emerged that former Labour minister Denis MacShane has been found guilty by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards of submitting 19 false invoices over a four-year period for translation services' from a bogus company he had set up.

The Mirror employee stole from a private company and went to prison. MacShane, who has paid back the £12,900 and now resigned as an MP, was fiddling taxpayers' money yet has used/abused parliamentary privilege to avoid the damning documentary evidence being used against him for prosecution. One rule for corrupt journalists but quite another for politicians?... Perish the thought."

Are Tory women MPs on a mission to make all female politicians look like stupid lightweights who don't deserve to run a bath, let alone a constituency?" asks Fiona McIntosh in the Sunday Mirror. The only person surprised that Nadine Dorries has been suspended by her party "is Mad Nad herself".

She's been "losing the plot for so long now, she actually believes walking out on her job without telling anyone so she can appear on a trashy reality show is the best way she can serve the constituents who pay her £65,738 a year to look after their interests. Yet it's as clear as the tan marks on her shoulders that the only interests Dorries cares about are her own."