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Judge tells multimillionaire divorce husband they are “not on the same planet”

Judge tells multimillionaire divorce husband they are “not on the same planet”

Mr Justice Holdman, presiding over a divorce dispute in the Family Division of London’s High Court, has told Mr Randy Work, a millionaire businessman, that he is not sure that they’re “on the same planet”. Mr Work has taken an “open” position that he is “not going to pay [his wife] a penny” in the ongoing proceedings.

Mr Work, 47, and his estranged wife, Mandy Gray, 45, began living together in 1992, before marrying in California in 1995. Mr Work, a former key executive in Lone Star, a Texas-based private equity company, has a fortune of at least £150m. He began working for Lone Star in Dallas, Texas in 1997, before being offered a post in Toyko. Mr Work and Ms Grey, who have two children – now aged 15 and 12 – moved to the city, and lived there between 1998 and 2005, before relocating again to London in 2008, where they have lived ever since. The couple separated in 2013 and Mr Work moved out of the matrimonial home and into a flat in Kensington.

In the witness box, Mr Work explained how he, as the “breadwinner”, had amassed his fortune, and described Ms Grey as a “good wife and mother” throughout their marriage. However, he argued that she is not entitled to any of his money or assets, as a result of her failing to abide by a Texan post-nuptial agreement. Mr Work said that by seeking to improve upon her entitlement under the agreement, she had breached its terms and was therefore prevented from receiving any of his wealth.

Conversely, Ms Grey said a clause in the agreement gives her “the unfettered right” to seek “any form of financial provision the court has the power to order”. Accordingly, she asserts that the family wealth – which was generated during the marriage – should now be divided equally.

“The focus should be on negotiation”

From the outset of the case, Mr Justice Holdman has urged the couple – who had “married without a bean” – to try and reach a private agreement. He said that there was “plenty of money to go around” and stated, “people who are struggling to afford two-bedroom houses have difficulties”. The judge said the “focus should be on negotiation”, but expressed disbelief at the figure of £3m that Mr Work had now advanced for his wife.

After appearing in court, Mr Work explained his position:

“Far from receiving nothing on divorce, the agreement provided my wife with no less than $71m, which she has chosen to reject in order to litigate for more. Many people would find that hard to understand. Litigating on divorce is always unpleasant – my concern is for the impact on our children”.

The proceedings are ongoing.

The end of London’s reputation as the divorce capital of the world?

While high-value cases are still under the consideration in the Royal Courts of Justice, the Financial Times has speculated on whether the end is in sight for London’s reputation as the divorce capital of the world as a result of a recent landmark case.

In 2008, Tracey Wright, a 51-year-old mother-of-two, divorced her equine surgeon husband and, as part of the settlement, was awarded a mortgage-free house and £75,000 a year in maintenance. However, her former husband has since returned to court to argue that it is unfair for him to continue to support her whilst she doesn’t work alongside bringing up their two school-age children. Agreeing with Mr Wright, a High Court judge ordered the personal maintenance payments to cease and urged Ms Wright to go out to work. The Court of Appeal has refused her leave to challenge the decision.

It is considered that the ruling may result in more men going back to court to request that maintenance payments are cut, with women advised to regain their independence within a few years of divorce.

England has long been at odds with other European jurisdictions by awarding open-ended lifetime commitments. In Europe, it is commonplace for maintenance payments to be time limited, and north of the border in Scotland, payments are often restricted to just three years after divorce. However, at present, London remains the jurisdiction of choice in many divorce disputes. In coming weeks, the proceedings between Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng, one of Malaysia’s richest men, and his estranged wife, are set to return to the High Court.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of family law, are considering divorce proceedings or a trial separation, or want to draw up a pre or post-nuptial agreement, call our mediation, high networth divorce and family dispute resolution solicitors in absolute confidence on 01494 790058 or 01494 790047. Alternatively, email us at familylaw@ibblaw.co.uk.

We can provide initial short family law consultations at a reduced fixed fee, where our expert advisors will be able to give you initial guidance on ways to resolve family disputes, either through mediation or individual representation. We will always provide you with cost estimates at the start and throughout your case.