A four year marriage and a predicted $108 million settlement. That's what Heather Mills, aka Lady McCartney, is expected to walk away with after a week in divorce court. Only in Britain can a failed marriage to a billionare lead to such a large jackpot in such a short amount of time.
In my divorce guidebook for women, He Had It Coming: How to Outsmart Your Husband and Win Your Divorce, I warn all short-term brides to be realisitic -- don't expect to cash in on your failed marriage if you haven't been in the game long enough to aquire joint marital assets. But apparently in England, the courts have a different take on marriage and money. Between $5 million dollars a year in child support until their daughter is 18 (Heather andf Paul share a daughter, 4-year-old Beatrice) and the rest made up in settlement money, Heather's jJob" as Mrs. Paul McCartney will likely have netted her approximately $27 million a year.
For a wife who handled her divorce completely wrong, Heather will nonetheless clean up in divorce court. British courts are known to dole out extremely generous divorce settlements. But I am convinced that a short-term marriage McCartney-like divorce settlement never would have happened here in America. Stateside, our courts rely on the principles of equity and fairness to divide assets, examining an array of factors such as the earning capacity of the spouses, contributions to the marriage, and the value of assets. So if you are in the midst of divorce or contemplating ending your marriage, don't look to Heather Mills as an example of how to behave in divorce court. Her success occurred only because she is lucky enough to live under the Queen's rule.
Heather broke my three cardinal rules of how to win your divorce:
1. Don't lose control of your emotions.
In an emotional outburst in a television interview, Mills said she had been driven to the brink of suicide by the media treatment of her during the divorce proccedings. Very bad move on her part. Her admission that she is out of control actually gave direct ammunition to Paul's lawyer to move for a change in custody. Although it didn't appear that they pursued such a route, Heather could have lost her daughter by showing the court she is emotionally or psychologically unstable or a danger to herself or others.
2. Don't air your dirty laundry in public.
Mills publicly aired details of the marriage difficulties and then stated, "I have protected Paul for this long and I am trying to protect him but I am being pushed to the edge and I don't want my daughter when she is 12 going on the Internet and reading this totally one-sided story." But it's a big mistake to go public with the details of your marriage while a divorce is pending, even if you aren't rich and famous. Your words outside court will typically come back to haunt you in court since they can be used as evidence in a hearing or trial
3. Don't provoke your spouse before settlement negotiations are about to begin.
Heather seemed to care more about her reputation -- the British press portrayed her as a gold-digger and a hussy -- than about making nice to her soon-to-be-ex husband. She fired her lawyers and lashed out at Paul during television interviews. She wasn't too wise to cross the man she needed to negotiate with to secure her financial future. My guess is he would have been even more generous at the bargaining table had she not publicly disparaged him or accused him of domestic violence.
When Paul McCartney filed for divorce he alleged "unreasonable behavior" by his wife. She seems to have given credibility to his allegation with her erratic conduct throughout the divorce. I can only imagine the judge's reaction to her oddball antics inside that closed courtroom in Britian and am convinced she could have earned an even higher divorce settlement had she played by the rules. But for someone who is alleged by British press to be an ex-porn star and yet who holds the title of Lady, she certainly proves it never hurts to marry rich.