Disputes between separated couples as to how their children should be provided for can, in the absence of compromise, sadly reach epic proportions. That was certainly so in one extraordinary case in which a couple spent over £5 million between them litigating over the future of their son.
The couple, who were not formally married, lived a remarkably lavish lifestyle during their long relationship. They viewed the birth of their longed-for child, following IVF treatment, as a miracle. Their separation, however, raised the curtain on relentless litigation concerning the boy. Their expenditure on legal costs was estimated to amount to more than £60,000 for each month of his young life.
The dispute entered a new chapter when the mother sought a carer's allowance and financial provision for the child from the immensely wealthy father. Ruling on the matter, the High Court found that the litigation arose almost entirely from the father's relentless, unsympathetic and oppressive conduct. Whilst clearly having exceptional business acumen, he had shown almost no emotional intelligence.
The Court noted that the child was apparently thriving. However, if he were to learn in later life that his parents had – at such completely absurd cost – spent their entire time arguing about him, he would be appalled. Such a discovery might prompt him to simply walk away from both of them when he was old enough to do so.
The father was, amongst other things, directed to provide for his child by paying the mother £125,000 a year and to arrange the purchase of a property for her and their son to live in at a price of up to £4 million. Urging the former couple to draw a line under the litigation and reach some sort of rapprochement, the Court emphasised that their child's best hope of a secure future lay in having two loving parents.