Are Royal Descendants proving that England is actually becoming the “Maintenance Capital of The United Kingdom”?

Financial matters

posted: 17th August 2017

Royals tend to be seen in a more positive spotlight; however descendants of the Royal Family have been caught up in a financial dispute ancillary to divorce proceedings.

The Duchess of Cornwall’s relative namely Emma Mary Jane Villiers is currently battling divorce proceedings with her soon to be ex-husband Charles Alastair Hyde Villiers. However the divorce itself is not the most gripping element of this situation. The highly controversial subject of spousal maintenance has yet again arisen in these proceedings.

Spousal maintenance arises in the financial proceedings of the divorce process. It is where a sum of money is paid by either the husband or wife to their ex-spouse following a divorce.

The facts of the case are as follows:

  • Mr and Mrs Villiers married in 1994
  • They have one daughter, now aged 22
  • During the course of their marriage they accumulated a substantial amount of wealth, now totalling nearly £5 million
  • However in 2012 they separated and 2014 Mr Villiers applied for a divorce in the Scottish Courts.
  • However, controversially Mrs Villiers has applied for spousal maintenance from the English Courts.

The actions of Mrs Villiers has given strength to the idea that England may actually be “the maintenance capital of the United Kingdom” as despite Mr Villiers beginning divorce proceedings in Scotland, his wife took proceedings for maintenance to the Courts in England. This decision is likely due to the generosity of the English Courts when awarding maintenance amounts. Furthermore the English Courts as opposed to their Scottish counterparts do not take into account inherited wealth when a spouse’s wealth is calculated. This poses the question; will the actions of Mrs Villers lead to more people from other jurisdictions seeking maintenance allowance through the English Courts?

Mrs Justice Parker, in London’s High Court, stated that she could see no reason why divorce should not proceed in one jurisdiction and maintenance in another”.

The ruling of this case, now subject to an appeal, has now coined the phrase “divorce tourism” and whether Britain will be subject to cases alike the Villiers more often.

The case now is now going to appeal as Mr Villiers has successfully argued that an English judge should not have intervened in this case. If Mrs Villiers is successful in her claim, this will surely set case law precedent for many years to come.

Here at PMC Family Law Solicitors, our expert team of family solicitors is on hand to help you in all private family law matters. This includes children matters, divorce, financial matters and cohabitation etc. Get in contact with us today by telephone on 0151 375 9968 or email for your free initial consultation.

Mak Singh