Aristocrat and estranged wife in Anglo-Scottish divorce dispute
An aristocrat and his estranged wife are embroiled in a legal battle about whether arguments over money should be staged in an English or Scottish divorce court.
Three Court of Appeal judges are analysing the dispute between Charles Villiers and Emma Villiers, who are both in their 50s and lived together in Dumbarton before separating, at a hearing in London.
A judge based in the Family Division of the High Court in London had initially considered the case.
Mrs Justice Parker had ordered Mr Villiers to pay Mrs Villiers £2,500 a month maintenance pending a resolution of their money fight.
She had rejected Mr Villiers' "jurisdictional challenges".
Mr Villiers, a racehorse owner and publisher whose family is listed in www.thepeerage.com, has mounted a challenge in the Court of Appeal, which Mrs Villiers is contesting.
He says their marriage is being dissolved in Scotland and wants to know why a fight over money should be staged in England
Barrister Michael Horton, who is leading Mr Villiers' legal team, told judges the couple had spent almost all their married life in Scotland after getting married in 1994.
He said Mr Villiers stayed in the family home, Milton House, in Dumbarton after the couple separated in 2012.
Mrs Villiers "came south to England", first living near Oxford then in London, and made a cash claim in the High Court in London.
Mr Horton said Mrs Justice Parker had rejected Mr Villiers "jurisdictional challenges".
He said Mr Villiers wanted answers to a number of questions, including:
- Could a spouse whose marriage was being dissolved in Scotland "move south" and apply for a maintenance order which would "have effect" pending divorce?
- Could such an maintenance order continue to have effect after divorce?
- Why should a spouse who moved south get better alimony payments than a spouse who stayed in Scotland and asked a judge in Scotland to make decisions?
Barrister Timothy Scott QC, who is representing Mrs Villiers, told appeal judges: "These cases are always about looking for litigation advantage on both sides."
Judges were told that final decisions on how assets and cash should be split between Mr and Mrs Villiers had been put on hold pending the outcome of the appeal.
Mr Horton told judges about financial difficulties following the breakdown of the couple's marriage.
He said Barclays had begun possession proceedings and Milton House had been repossessed in early 2015.
Mr Villiers had been made bankrupt in November 2013 then discharged from bankruptcy in November 2014.