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McCartney vs. Mills: What the Judge Really Said

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Two years of mud-slinging in the divorce between Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills is perhaps over, as a London High Court Judge recently decided who gets what in a revealing, 58-page tale of mud-slinging, blame, and high stakes.

Most celebrities make every possible attempt to settle their financial disputes before there is a trial because of wealth and privacy issues. Not this couple.

The once-private former Beatle and his estranged wife will now contend with having multiple addresses published all over the Internet, with intimate details of their private lives published in a High Court decision that has been leaked nearly everywhere and has had tongues wagging for weeks.

The Honorable Justice Bennett, in a 58-page document, said the financial settlement in the divorce case was decided on the merits of three distinct issues:

  • Was Heather Mills wealthy and independent in her own right when the couple met?;
  • Did the couple live together before marriage to determine the length of the relationship?; and
  • Did Paul McCartney prevent Mills from earning a living together and did this require "compensation" on her part?

On all three issues, the Judge ruled in McCartney's favor, claiming Mills' testimony was "not just inconsistent and inaccurate, but also less than candid. Overall she was a less than impressive witness."

On the other hand, McCartney was ruled to have presented evidence that was "consistent, accurate, and honest."

Why Was Mills Discredited?

Though Heather Mills claimed she was wealthy in her own right, with 2-3 million pounds of her own in the bank when she met McCartney, the only bank statements she could produce were after she had met McCartney, and after McCartney had gifted her with several hundred thousand pounds. Additionally, her tax returns were less than "wealthy."

Mills also produced a deed to a house in the UK, but the judge found that Mills had purchased the house with money she gained from a lawsuit settlement from when she lost her leg, not from her supposed earnings as a "top speaker," "model" (and who hasn't seen all those photos on the Internet?), and author.

Though Mills claimed the tax returns did not show her true wealth because most of her income went to charity, the Judge noticed that there were no claims on tax returns for interest earned from having millions of pounds in the bank, and no receipts for donating her income to charity were produced. Hence, Mills' claims were not believed.

Four Years of Marriage Was a Lifetime

Mills claimed she lived with McCartney prior to the marriage, perhaps to strategically lengthen the amount of time the couple had been together.

McCartney balked, claiming they had not cohabited before marriage and in fact, that he'd loaned Mills money to buy her own home during that time.

The judge ruled in McCartney's favor but perhaps Mills should get some points for trying. After all, you can't get half of your husband's fortune if you were only married for four years to a purported billionaire who earned most of his money in the 1960s. It was a long shot. She lost.

Was Paul a Controlling, Unsupportive Husband?

On the third and final issue, Mills claimed she was forced to turn down "countless lucrative business opportunities" while married to a "controlling" Paul McCartney, however, the Judge found that "The husband, in my judgment, gave compelling evidence that no-one tells the wife what to do."

In the end, Mills walked away with a settlement that was significantly less than she had wanted, but nevertheless comfortable:

  • Mills gets a lump sum of the U.S. equivalent of $32 million.
  • Mills will get an additional $4.9 million to buy a flat in London.
  • Mills will get $32 million in child support and annual maintenance from McCartney.
  • Mills will get $100,000 per year from McCartney to donate to charities.
  • Mills will keep hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of jewelry given to her by McCartney.
  • With property and cash added together, her total settlement, apart from the annual child support and maintenance figure, is approximately $48 million.

Should Ms. Mills need to prove her wealth in court again any time soon, she will likely have no difficulty proving she is, in fact, now a wealthy woman in her own right. Thanks to Sir Paul McCartney.


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