Divorce lawyer talks through the latest celebrity divorce

Posted 13/02/2018

Lauren Howard, trainee divorce solicitor at Holmes & Hills Solicitors in Braintree,discusses Ant McPartlin’s separation from wife Lisa Armstrong and what will be involved in the process of separation.


We have all recently seen in the media the breakdown of Ant McPartlin’s divorce from his wife Lisa Armstrong. The couple were together for 23 years having tied-the-knot in 2006, therefore a reasonably long length marriage of 12 years.

Commencing divorce proceedings

If Mr McPartlin wants to proceed with divorce immediately, there is only one ground on which a Petition for divorce may be presented to the Court. Mr McPartlin would need to show that his marriage has broken down irretrievably. He must satisfy the Court of one of the five facts specified in Section 1(2) of the MCA 1973. The grounds are:

  • adultery, which may not be applicable in his circumstances
  • two years separation with consent
  • five years separation
  • desertion, or
  • finally unreasonable behavior

The only ground available to commence divorce proceedings immediately in Mr McPartlin’s situation is seemingly unreasonable behaviour.

This is the petition we draft most often as Divorce Lawyers at Holmes & Hills Solicitors. There is no need to be hostile when drafting the reasons behind the parties’ unreasonable behaviour and often we find that parties will agree the reasons before they come to us for the divorce Petition. If a party is not sure what to include we can ensure that this is drafted on a very amicable basis so as not to inflame an already stressful situation. This is a subjective test and therefore it is what YOU feel is unreasonable. This could include reasons such as:

  • you have simply drifted apart
  • you no longer have an intimate relationship
  • you no longer share common interests, as well as a number of other factors.

Dealing with matrimonial assets and finances

When parties have agreed that they are to separate and divorce, they often want matters dealt with as swiftly and as privately as possible. Within divorce proceedings there is also the matter of finances to be sorted out. In Mr McPartlin’s instance, there is likely to be significant assets to be divided. The starting point for a long length of marriage is 50:50. The Court has the power to order periodical payments, which the Courts ideally like to avoid as they would much prefer that any financial settlement was out of capital and the parties would therefore achieve a clean break. The capital orders the Court can make are more diverse and include lump sum orders, property adjustment orders and pension sharing orders. Clearly in Mr McPartlin’s case there is a high net worth and the media have reported that he may be prepared to pay his wife a settlement of £30million. This is unusual for couples to have quite so many assets however it should make the ability to order a capital order much easier for the Courts.

In considering what financial Order should be made the Court shall have regard to Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act. Section 25 provides eight factors the Court must consider when dealing with financial orders. These include the income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources of the parties including that that he or she is likely to have in the foreseeable future. Clearly in Mr McPartlin’s case his earning capacity remains high and there is also no apparent reason as to why Ms Armstrong could not work, however, it may be that she has become accustomed to a certain lifestyle that her income alone could not provide for.

The next factor that the Courts will consider is the financial needs of the parties. This could include the fact that many couples have children and the parent with which the child is staying with most of the time will clearly need to have, for example, a bigger house as opposed to the parent who does not have full time care of the child. The next factor to be considered is the standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage. Clearly both Mr McPartlin and Ms Armstrong have enjoyed a high standard of living and the Courts will therefore consider it is not reasonable for Lisa to suddenly be cut short of this lifestyle. The parties will also consider the age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage.

The next factor that the Court will consider is whether there are any physical or mental disabilities of either of the parties to the marriage. The next factor to consider is the contributions which each party has made or is likely to make in the foreseeable future to the welfare of the family; this also includes any contributions made by looking after the home. It is not as simple as there is one party that works and therefore they have contributed the majority as clearly there are two roles needed to look after a household. The Courts will also consider the conduct of each party if the conduct is so poor that it would be in the opinion of the Court inequitable to disregard it.

Finally, in the case of proceedings for divorce they will consider any benefit by which because of the dissolution of the marriage the party may lose the chance of acquiring.

In McPartlin’s case, there is clearly the opportunity to obtain a clean break. Sometimes this is not possible where there is not a high net worth in the matrimonial pot and therefore sometimes one party does need to maintain another party for a particular length of time. Fortunately, there is likely to be significant assets and therefore Mr McPartlin and Ms Armstrong should achieve a clean break Order.

Getting advice on separation and divorce:

At Holmes & Hills Solicitors, our Family Law Solicitors can both discuss a clean break basis or ongoing maintenance. We will ensure that we listen to your needs and work out what is most suitable for your future and your particular circumstances.

It is recommended that you get advice from a specialist lawyer at as early a stage as possible so that you can take the legal advice you need and ensure that your interests are always fully protected. Holmes & Hills dedicated team of specialist family lawyers can assist you at what can be a very difficult stage of your life and we can hold appointments at any of our offices including Braintree, Sudbury, Coggeshall, Halstead and Tiptree.

If you are concerned and simply want to know the options available to you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. Holmes & Hills offers initial consultations at a discounted fee rate, which include providing you with a full attendance note from this meeting which will allow you to fully understand the situation better.

Call 01376 320465 (Essex) or 01787 275275 (Suffolk) to organise an appointment with one of the team.


Lauren Howard

Posted 13/02/2018 by:
Lauren Howard
Solicitor in Family Team

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