Celebrity divorces create “unrealistic expectations”

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard
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High profile celebrity divorces - such as Johnny Depp's split from Amber Heard - are creating "unrealistic expectations" for divorcing couples, according to family lawyers.

They are warning that a recent spate of high-profile divorces (here soundtracked by Tammy Wynette's D-I-V-O-R-C-E) among the mega rich are breeding a culture of unreasonable demands in normal divorce cases which can pile on the stress and pressure already created by separation.

Hollywood actress Heard, 30, published her expenses during her headline-grabbing split from Depp which she claims run to US$44,000 a month despite an average monthly income of US$10,000.

Some of her monthly costs include US$10,000 for rent, US$3,000 for health care, US$2,000 for groceries and household supplies, another US$2,000 for eating out, US$2,000 for clothes and US$10,000 for entertainment, gifts and holidays.

She also included US$10,000 for miscellaneous expenses, including grooming and pet supplies for her dogs and her publicist, agent and attorney fees.

And former supermodel Christina Estrada, 54, was successful in obtaining a share of her 61-year-old billionaire Saudi husband's £200 million fortune in one of Britain's biggest ever High Court divorce battles last month.

Sheikh Walid Juffali, 61, was ordered to pay Estrada a lump sum of £53 million - the largest "needs" pay-out ever made by an English court.

Aside from the £62 million she claimed she needed to buy a new home, Estrada said she also needed £1 million each year to dress herself, with her shopping list including £58,000 for two luxury handbags, as well as £23,000 for six 'casual' handbags and £35,000 for ten clutch bags. The Saudi billionaire died two weeks after the judgement.

Lyn Ayrton, of family law firm Lake Legal, said: "Reports of a handbag allowance running to tens of thousands of pounds are not helpful in the vast majority of divorces.

"Couples need to have realistic expectations through the process. There is no principle in English law that a spouse has to be kept in a particular lifestyle.

"The standard of living enjoyed by the parties is taken into account but it is only one of many factors and in most cases both parties have to cut their cloth after a separation.

"Spousal maintenance is hugely complex. There is no automatic entitlement to spousal maintenance on divorce or dissolution.

"The legislation obliges the court to consider whether it is possible to achieve a clean break between the parties, or whether the needs of one party require maintenance to be paid by the other party, whether in isolation or as a means of 'topping up' an existing income source."

Ms Ayrton argues that a more realistic approach to maintenance would help to facilitate quicker and easier divorce proceedings, which also helps to minimise the stress involved in separation.

Other recent high profile divorces include former world heavyweight boxing champion David Haye and his wife Natasha who were granted a divorce after eight years of marriage.

Comedian and actor Chris Rock and his wife Malaak Compton-Rock announced the end of their nearly 20-year marriage in 2014, and spent the next two years hashing out the details of their divorce settlement - including the issue of child support.

China has recently been captivated by action star Wang Baoqiang who is seeking to divorce his actress wife Ma Rong. The divorce, brought about by an alleged affair, sent Chinese social media into meltdown with posts about the scandal attracting more than five billion views.