Judge warns divorcing couple over soaring legal costs

Monday, 29 July 2013
A senior family court judge has warned an international couple against dissipating their assets in legal costs, at a hearing in which the wife sought to have the divorce settlement decided under English law.

The couple met and married in Singapore in 2009. They resided there until August 2012 when the wife, Charoo Sekhri, who holds a senior medical post at a London hospital, unlawfully took their son to London and petitioned for a divorce there.

Her husband, Aloke Ray, a partner in the US-based global law firm White & Case, denied that either of them were domiciled in England & Wales at the date of the petition. He is litigating in India, where he wants the divorce to take place, and where his wife would receive less generous financial provision than she would under English family law.

Mr Justice Holman granted Sekhri's petition for an English divorce on the basis that both parties were domiciled in England and Wales on the relevant date, although India is both parties' domicile of origin. Holman's decision is essentially based on two findings. One was that Ray's father, although also of Indian birth, had acquired an English domicile of choice by the time Ray was born in 1971. The other was that Charoo Sekhri had acquired an English domicile of choice before the Singapore marriage, by living in London permanently to further her career and because she preferred English attitudes and the English way of life.

However, Holman also noted that the couple have already each spent about GBP430,000 on litigation regarding their divorce and custody of their son, out of a combined matrimonial pot of about GBP4 million. A statement made by Holman J at an earlier hearing referred to their prospective 'financial suicide' if they persisted with their 'highly charged' litigation over what were (he said) relatively straightforward financial issues with very little dispute about the income or assets. Most of the couple's assets is in investment properties already owned by the husband before the parties met, and which may therefore be excluded from the settlement.


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