Aris­to­crat’s wife wins right to take di­vorce fight to Eng­land

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Dean Her­bert

AN aris­to­crat re­lated to the Duchess of Corn­wall has lost a le­gal bat­tle to stop his es­tranged wife us­ing English di­vorce courts in her bid to gain a larger share of his fam­ily for­tune.

Charles Vil­liers, 55, has ac­cused for­mer spouse Emma of ‘try­ing it on’ in the English courts as a cross-border di­vorce tourist.

Mrs Vil­liers wants to set­tle her bat­tle for monthly £10,000 main­te­nance pay­ments south of the Border, where di­vorce set­tle­ments are viewed as more gen­er­ous.

The 58-year-old in­sists EU reg­u­la­tions al­low this, as she fights for a slice of Mr Vil­liers’s £5mil­lion fam­ily for­tune.

But her ex-hus­band, a race­horse owner, chal­lenged an English High Court rul­ing on the fi­nan­cial main­te­nance he must pay, in­sist­ing a judge in Eng­land has no right to in­ter­vene in a Scots di­vorce case.

But a judge in Lon­don yes­ter­day ruled that Mrs Vil­liers is en­ti­tled to claim main­te­nance from her for­mer spouse in Eng­land, even though their di­vorce is still on­go­ing in Scot­land.

The for­mer cou­ple, who have a grown-up daugh­ter, lived for all but one year of their mar­riage in Mil­ton House, an 18th cen­tury manor in Dun­bar­ton­shire.

But, af­ter 17 years to­gether, they separated in 2012 and he launched di­vorce pro­ceed­ings in Scot­land.

Fol­low­ing their sep­a­ra­tion, Mrs Vil­liers and the cou­ple’s daugh­ter set up home in Kens­ing­ton, west Lon­don. At the time, a judge or­dered Mr Vil­liers to pay in­terim main­te­nance of £2,500 per month.

Mr Vil­liers was also or­dered to pay £3,000 per month as a con­tri­bu­tion to his ex-wife’s le­gal bills.

Mrs Vil­liers says she and her daugh­ter need £10,000 a month to live on and that her hus­band has the means to pro­vide for them. But bar­ris­ter Michael Hor­ton, for Mr Vil­liers, ar­gued that an English judge had no right to in­ter­vene in a Scottish di­vorce.

Mrs Vil­liers, he said, had ef­fec­tively been ‘re­warded for mov­ing from Scot­land to Eng­land’.

But Lady Jus­tice King ruled the di­vorce ac­tion in Scot­land re­lated ‘only to the sta­tus’ of Mr and Mrs Vil­liers as a mar­ried cou­ple.

The judge told the Court of Ap­peal: ‘Fo­rum shop­ping is of­ten re­garded as be­ing unattrac­tive in fam­ily pro­ceed­ings.’ Mrs Vil­liers, she ex­plained, had not made a main­te­nance claim in Scot­land and was ‘per­fectly en­ti­tled to choose’ to do so in Eng­land.

In 2016, Mrs Jus­tice Parker ruled that the English High Court had the power to help her, be­cause she was by then ‘ha­bit­u­ally res­i­dent’ in Eng­land. Mr Hor­ton said that if this de­ci­sion was al­lowed to stand, Lon­don could be­come the ‘main­te­nance cap­i­tal’ of the UK.

Mr Vil­liers has fam­ily links with Camilla through his mother El­iz­a­beth Kep­pel, daugh­ter of Vis­count Bury and the Duchess’s ma­ter­nal grand­mother, So­nia Rose­mary Kep­pel.

He was de­clared bank­rupt in 2013. Although he was dis­charged from bank­ruptcy the fol­low­ing year, the fam­ily manor was re­pos­sessed in 2015.

Mrs Vil­liers’s lawyers claim he is far from pen­ni­less and in­sist he has fam­ily money, in­clud­ing a half share in a £3.5mil­lion trust fund in­her­ited from his grand­mother.

They say his wealth ‘may be much more’ if a Lon­don flat held by a fam­ily-con­trolled com­pany is taken into con­sid­er­a­tion.

‘Per­fectly en­ti­tled to choose’

Sold: Mil­ton House in Dun­bar­ton­shire Vic­tory: Emma Vil­liers won her bat­tle over main­te­nance

Le­gal fight: Charles Vil­liers

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.