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25 April 2016

Court takes stand against 'divorce tourism' in case of millionaire barrister and artist ex-wife

An Appeal Court judge has taken a stand on so-called "divorce tourism" in a dispute between a millionaire QC and his former wife who agreed a settlement in Australia, reports The Telegraph.

Lady Justice Black said "this court is not here to provide a top up for every foreign divorce", as she ruled the barrister had already met his side of the bargain and should not be made to pay any more.
Jason Galbraith-Marten QC's ex-wife, Catherine De Renee, claimed in the London court she is surviving on benefits while he lives in a £1.6 million home due to their "unfair" divorce settlement.

The 49-year-old paid his 38-year-old wife £72,500 of the marital assets and around £45,000 in maintenance, the court heard, but that stopped in 2012 and now she says she and their eight-year-old daughter are "in a predicament of real need".

Although Mr Galbraith-Marten still pays £9,600-a-year in child support, his former wife said she is forced to get by on state handouts and is more than £50,000 in debt.

Her barrister, Nicholas Yates, contrasted that with Mr Galbraith-Marten's "gilded life" as an employment law specialist who took silk in 2014.

Now re-married, he and his new wife still live in the Fulham home he once shared with Ms De Renee.

Mr Yates claimed Ms De Renee was "under very great pressure" when she signed up to the divorce settlement in Australia in 2009.

But the judge said: "There was nothing to show that the settlement was unfair. This was a short marriage, though there was of course a child born. This court is not here to provide a top up for every foreign divorce."

Ms De Renee, an Australian citizen, specialises in "sensual" female portraits that she says create a "mood filled with drama, intensity and lingering eroticism".

Her ex-husband, one of Britain's best known silks, represented the BBC in the heavily publicised "ageism" row with dropped presenter, Miriam O'Reilly.

The BBC later came in for criticism after it emerged that it paid Mr Galbraith-Marten £45,000 for the 12-day employment tribunal hearing.

Mr Yates told the court that Ms De Renee is in a "precarious" financial position and had been forced to take her daughter out of her fee-paying school.

And the barrister asked the judge to give her a fresh chance of getting a "fair" deal from her ex.
"The wife is a full time mother to the parties' daughter", he said.

"She resides in rented accommodation and derives her income from two sources, namely state benefits and child support. She also has debts of over £50,000. The husband is a barrister, specialising in employment law in chambers in London.

He resides in the former matrimonial home in Fulham. The wife believes this property to be worth in the region of £1.6 million. "There was in this case no independent assessment of whether the settlement was fair. Ms De Renee and her daughter were evicted from their rental property and her daughter was removed from the school she had selected for her as she could not afford the fees.

The agreement should not leave one party in a predicament of real need. It was a short marriage, but there was a child and that can change everything," he added.

"The wife in this case is in a predicament of real need."