10 Dec Australian Couple Spends 12 Years In Divorce Court
Principal of Justice Family Lawyers, Hayder specialises in complex parenting and property family law matters. He is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Communications from UTS.
Every year, 97 000 Australians ask their partner for a divorce.
This means 1 in 3 married couples are not likely to go the distance.
The process of divorce can be time-consuming, with an average minimum of 4 months from the first date of filing to the issuing of the divorce order from the Family Court.
This was not the case, however, for Mr and Mrs Strahan.
After 12 years of dispute- which amassed a total of 33 hearings and $35 million in legal fees- Mr and Mrs Strahan were finally divorced in December 2017.
Mr and Mrs Strahan initially met in the 1980s, and married in 1994.
In 2006, 12 years later, they filed for divorce.
The couple share a child; an adult son with autism. Their son was only nine years old when the divorce proceedings began.
At the time of separation in 2005, the court heard Mr Strahan gave Mrs Strahan a lump sum of approximately $7 million.
Shortly after, he moved to Asia where he now lives with his second wife and their eight-year-old daughter.
He has continued to fund his son’s care over the years.
However, over the course of the 12-year-long divorce, Mrs Strahan engaged ‘about 15 different family lawyers and divorce lawyers in pursuit of financial orders.
Mrs Strahan has requested a minimum of $278,000 a week from Mr Strahan in spousal maintenance.
This amount includes the cost of caring for their son, which is estimated at $70,760 weekly.
Mrs Strahan claimed the $70,760 would cover the costs of autism experts, security guards, a personal chef and medical assistance for his anxiety, insomnia, seizures and Lyme disease.
The son in question was described in court documents as ‘a little prince’ with a team of full-time carers.
The Family Court – Strahan v Strahan
Despite Mrs Strahan asking for a further adjournment, which would have deferred the matter until 2018, Justice Paul Cronin granted the divorce.
In doing so, he stated ‘After 12 years of waiting…the husband is entitled to have the matter concluded’.
In regard to the $48.4 million in assets, Judge Cronin decided- as the husband entered the relationship with various successful businesses and a weekly income of $90 000- that Mr Strahan was entitled to keep a larger amount of the property pool.
Accordingly, Mr Strahan received assets totalling $38 million and a Swiss chalet.
Mrs Strahan received five properties, cash and chattels worth $11 million.
This figure is in addition to the $13 million she has already received throughout the years.
The Judge’s Comments
The dispute was critiqued by Judge Cronin, particularly in regard to the $35 million expenses in legal fees.
His Honour quoted ‘the expense has been extraordinary’.
Furthermore, the 12-year dispute meant the couple were engaged in a legal battle for the same amount of time the parties were actually together.
With the divorce and financial orders finally granted, despite Mrs Strahan’s appeal, both parties can hopefully move past the issue and move forward with their lives.