Sunday 25 June 2017

Couple in 'Titanic' divorce row reach deal over home, after running up lawyers bills of €900k

Margie Hanley. Photo: PA
Margie Hanley. Photo: PA

Brian Farmer

An Irish millionaire and his estranged wife have settled a dispute over a €576,000 holiday home in rural Ireland after staging a "Titanic" divorce court battle in London.

Michael and Margie Hanley - who had lived together in Wentworth, Surrey - both wanted the house they jointly owned in the village of Cornamona, County Galway.

Mr Justice Holman analysed evidence at a public trial in the Family Division of the High Court in London over two days.

But lawyers on Wednesday told him that an agreement had been reached which would see Mrs Hanley become the owner of the Cornamona property.

The judge had said the couple would split cash and assets totalling between €11m and €16m in the wake of their marriage breakdown.

He said they had together run up lawyers' bills of more than £800,000 (€922,000) on a ''Titanic battle'' - and he described the figure as ''phenomenal''.

Michael Hanley leaves the Family Division of the High Court in London. Photo: PA Wire
Michael Hanley leaves the Family Division of the High Court in London. Photo: PA Wire

Mr Hanley (60) who has retired after a career with multinational conglomerate GE, told how their 33-year marriage hit the rocks after he discovered that his wife had an affair.

Mrs Hanley (56) who denied adultery, said Mr Hanley had told her that she could have the house in Cornamona and was ''punishing'' her.

Mr Justice Holman told them he was "very, very glad" that agreement had been reached.

"Obviously I regret it could not have been sooner and some of these massive costs saved," he said.

"It has been very painful for me to listen to what really is a very sad story because for so long you together achieved so much and I am sorry it has ended in the way it has.

"But in all events you are on the threshold of new lives and I wish all possible happiness in those new lives."

The judge heard that the couple had lived in Europe, the Far East and the United States because Mr Hanley's work had taken him abroad.

They had built the house in Cornamona about 16 years ago and had gone there for holidays and at Christmas.

Mr Hanley wanted it to be a retirement base.

Mrs Hanley, who still lives in Wentworth, said she should have the Cornamona house because generations of her family had lived in the village.

Mr Justice Holman heard that there had been suggestions of Mrs Hanley living elsewhere in Cornamona.

He also raised the possibility of the pair, who have grown-up children, using the house at different times of the year.

But Mrs Hanley told him: ''We are getting divorced. The village isn't big enough for both of us.''

Mr Justice Holman had been scheduled to hear closing legal arguments from barristers on Wednesday before making a ruling.

But a barrister leading Mrs Hanley's legal team told him that agreement had been reached.

Stewart Leech QC said under the agreement Mrs Hanley would become the owner of the Cornamona house and the house the couple had shared in Wentworth.

Stephen Trowell QC, who led Mr Hanley's legal team, said "everybody" was bound by the agreement.

Neither Mr nor Mrs Hanley wanted to comment outside court.

Mrs Hanley was hugged by one of her lawyers as she left.

Press Association

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