There are many reasons why marriages which begin with tenderness and high hopes dissolve into acrimony and divorce.

In my experience, and that of my colleagues in JMW’s Family department, most relationships are eroded by what to outsiders might seem relatively trivial matters.

There might not be any infidelity or domestic abuse but, over time, a multitude of tiny fractures undermine confidence and a couple’s long-term prospects.

Occasionally, though, there is behaviour which has a more corrosive impact on the fabric and finances binding spouses together. It can, in fact, be so extreme that it generates antipathy which lasts long after they have parted.

Such is the case with Amit Goyal and his former wife, Ankita.

The Court of Appeal has heared how a luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the couple during their eight-year marriage, and funded by his six-figure salary as a banker, disappeared as he lost enormous sums on spread betting.

Mr Goyal argued that that is was “peer pressure” from colleagues which led to him frittering his and his wife’s assets away, leaving him living on benefits and with debts of more than £650,000.

He has now been ordered to give her his only remaining asset - £19,000 worth of shares in the Swiss bank UBS.

It is an example of what is known as “wanton spending”, the kind of reckless expenditure which diminishes the amount to which an individual’s partner might reasonably be entitled to if they separated.

Whilst there might be those who consider the judgement to be unfair, I would disagree. In determining suitable divorce settlements, courts start from a position of trying to be as fair to both sides as possible.

Spouses who run up large bills, thus depriving a husband or wife of assets to which they might be awarded on divorce, are said to have engaged in “intentional deprivation”, something which undermines the very concept of fairness itself.

There is one element in the Goyal case, however, which I don’t believe can pass without comment.

Regardless of the details of their five-year divorce, it should not have been so long drawn-out, particularly given its additionally ruinous effect on their finances.

Mr Goyal alone owes £130,000 to his lawyers, a situation which should simply not have arisen.

When divorce solicitors like myself are asked for advice by someone wanting to divorce, it is of critical importance to enquire as to their assets.

It is in neither the interests of a couple nor their lawyers to pursue a dispute between ex-husbands and wives in the full knowledge that there are limited means.

Legal procedures have to be paid for – and that causes resources which are far better spent providing for the future of spouses and any children being depleted still further.

Divorce is undoubtedly an emotional process but, when confronted with facts, even combative partners will see the sense of opting for a route which leads them away from the duration, costs and gamble represented by the courtroom and towards a more constructive solution, such as mediation.


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