Making divorce easier would be a sure road to misery and conflict.
There may be no marriages made in heaven, but divorce almost certainly comes from the place downstairs, and nothing makes that clearer than the BBC documentary Millionaires’ Ex-Wives Club (see also below) Few come across well. There’s the shady businessman who went to jail rather than pay up the £26m that the courts ordered, and was later photographed with wads of cash. Then there was the divorcee who demanded £120m from her second husband after he returned to his first wife, eventually settling for “just” £15m. Worst of all was the lawyer who tells his clients how they can “hypothetically” (ie, illegally) hide assets from the spouses they are about to ditch.
Divorce capital of the world
London is already the divorce capital of the world – now the great and the good want to make getting one here even easier. Divorce laws “have become anachronistic and… are no longer fit for purpose as regards the regularising of our private lives”, says former judge Paul Coleridge in The Times. One of the reforms that he, and others, want to bring in is the US system of no-fault divorce where one person can decide unilaterally to end a marriage without cause, over the objections of their spouse.
I can think of little that has brought more misery to more people than the ease with which divorces are handed out these days, says Rod Liddle in The Spectator. The children of divorcees “do worse at school, are more likely to suffer emotional and mental problems, more likely to be in trouble with the police and more likely to take drugs”. I’m a divorcee myself, says Liddle, but we mustn’t let our feelings or desire to get free get in the way of facts such as these.
Ironically, by denying the wronged spouse the chance to slow down the process, or even air their grievances, the US system can encourage them to get their revenge in other ways. Town & Country magazine reports that one woman was forced out of her home when her ex-husband wanted to move in with his mistress. She was devastated by the thought of being uprooted. On her last night in her home she settled for a final meal, consisting of “a bottle of champagne and a gorgeous platter of shrimp, caviar, and oysters”.
When her husband and his companion moved in, however, they soon “noticed an awful smell”. Despite calling in “exterminators and a mould remediation specialist”, nothing would get rid of it. Frustrated and disgusted, the pair fell to arguing and eventually put the house on the market. The only bidder was “the ex-wife, who wound up purchasing her house back at a significant discount… The day she moved back in, she set a ladder in front of the window in one room after another, pulled apart the curtain rod, and brushed out the bits of decomposing shell fish and blobs of decaying caviar and oyster meat she had stuffed inside”.
Tabloid money… there’s easy money to be made on Instagram
• The BBC documentary Millionaires’ Ex-Wives Club presented us with Lisa Tchenguiz, who was so rich you wanted to be sick, says Jennifer Selway in the Daily Express. The daughter of the Shah of Iran’s royal minter, Tchenguiz “has always been, er, minted”. After her second marriage ended, she “prised” £15m from her now former husband, and now in her 50s, spends her days in London’s posh Mayfair. Yet, as much as I expected to dislike this “strange creature”, I actually found myself warming to her. “I’d rather have money and be sad than no money and be sad,” said Tchenguiz. Well, you can’t argue with that.
• Have you seen how much Victoria’s Secret model Candice Swanepoel gets just for shoving a sponsored picture of herself on Instagram? asks Rod Liddle in The Sun. It’s £50,000 a pop, according to lingerie label Bluebella. The 29-year-old South African has been dubbed the most influential model on the popular photo-sharing app, where she has 11.8 million followers. “Think I’ll open an Instagram account. I’ve got a great photo of me naked, in a swimming pool, eating a Greggs Steak Bake… If that doesn’t pull in the cash, then I don’t know what will.”
• Tesco tried to pull a fast one last week, says Saira Khan in the Sunday Mirror. The supermarket “sneakily” announced it was changing its popular Clubcard reward scheme (which many people take in the form of vouchers) with immediate effect. The vouchers can be used at restaurants and London Zoo for sometimes up to four times face value. Tesco reduced this to a maximum of three. “Disgruntled customers took to social media to grumble about this. As a result, the company conceded to a grace period until 10 June. When will it learn that “customer loyalty is a two-way deal?”