When he's 64, Paul McCartney may well be on a long and winding road through the courts in one of Britain's most expensive divorce cases.
With Wednesday's announcement that the former Beatle is to separate from his second wife, 38-year-old Heather Mills McCartney, speculation immediately turned to the financial settlements surrounding the end of their four-year marriage.
"She could get a huge chunk of his wealth," said Patricia Hollings, a divorce specialist with the London legal firm Finers Stephens Innocent. Hollings said that Mills McCartney's relatively young age and the fact that they have a child, combined with McCartney's "staggering" wealth and celebrity status, have the potential to push the settlement into the stratosphere.
On Wednesday afternoon, McCartney posted a message on his personal Web site, saying that he was upset over suggestions that Mills McCartney had simply married him for his fortune, which was estimated by The Sunday Times at 800 million pounds (US$1.5 billion; Ђ1.2 billion). The couple did not have a prenuptial agreement, Mills McCartney said in a Vanity Affair interview in 2002.
"It's been suggested that she married me for the money and there is not an ounce of truth in this," McCartney said in the posting. "She is a very generous person who spends most of her time trying to help others in greater need than herself. All the work she does is unpaid so these stories are ridiculous and completely unfounded."
Earlier in the day, the couple issued a joint statement which insisted their split was friendly but said that intrusions by the media made it difficult to sustain their relationship, reports AP.
The couple married in June 2002 in a $3.2 million wedding in Ireland. Their daughter, Beatrice Milly, was born in October 2003.
McCartney, 63, and Mills, 37, met through her charity work, the Heather Mills Health Trust, which provides prosthetic limbs to the needy and campaigns against landmines.
Mills – who now carries the title of Heather, Lady McCartney – formed the initiative after losing the lower part of her leg in a 1993 motorcycle accident.
The U.K. press has reported recently that McCartney and Mills have been living apart in the past few weeks. Mills's rep at first denied marital woes, telling PEOPLE, "She's getting a new leg fitted, and she's (in Hove), near where she's having it done. Paul's being very supportive," reports People Magazine.
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