Judge describes protracted divorce case as scandalous waste of time

By Lenore Rice

A family court judge has described the protracted divorce case of a couple who have already spent almost £2million on solicitor fees as a "scandalous waste of court time".

Mr Justice Holman also said the couple had "completely lost touch with reality", as they had spent nearly a third of their assets on the divorce case, which was still ongoing. Barbara Cooke, aged 58, and Michael Parker, aged 55, run a firm called BC Softwear that supply luxury bathrobes and towels to hotels and spas, and had combined assets of approximately £6.6million.

The divorce case has yet to reach trial but nearly £2million has been spent on solicitor fees, and following the pre-trial hearing Holman advised the couple to negotiate, saying they were "heading for catastrophe". The judge has estimated that at least a further £200,000 would be spent in legal fees if the couple proceeded to trial.

The case highlights how arbitration and negotiation should always be the first step taken by couples going through a divorce. An amicable resolution not only saves money in legal fees, but also reduces the angst and bad-feeling that can take hold when a divorce becomes protracted. That should be of particular concern to families with children, who will have ongoing contact following the divorce.

If you need legal advice from a divorce solicitor in Northern Ireland contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by clicking here.