My financial strategy? Find a new husband for a start
A Russian beauty queen and actress at the centre of a £6m divorce battle at the Royal Courts of Justice in London has outlined her plans to secure her financial future: find a new husband.
Ekaterina Parfenova, who is seeking a multi-million pound settlement from her estranged husband Richard Fields, an American lawyer, said she had no plans to work but is a "very good wife" and hopes to remarry.
She is vying for a £2.6m share of their estimated £6m assets plus an annual payout of up to £750,000.
That would include £75,000 a year for holidays and mortgage payments on a £5.5m flat near Kensington Palace.
The 42-year-old told the court that she did not marry Mr Fields, her second husband, for his money or lifestyle and originally thought he was a "driver" when they first met.
The case is one of the first high-profile Family Court divorce hearings of its kind to be open to the public, after the judge, Mr Justice Holman, refused requests for it to be behind closed doors, insisting people had a right to see justice "at work".
The judge has made repeated attempts to get the couple to settle.
When Ms Parfenova appeared reluctant to go back into the witness box to continue her evidence, he told her it was still not too late to stop "this terrible destructive conflict".
Ms Parfenova, who first became a household name in Russia as a child star of the film 'Higher Than The Rainbow', was cross-examined by Stephen Trowell, representing 59-year-old Mr Fields, about her job prospects. She speaks Russian, French and English and had worked as a translator in the past, and might even consider working as a personal assistant or estate agent.
He asked her: "Do you intend to work after today?"
She replied that she was not, adding: "I am a very good wife - I will try to find a husband."
Mr Trowell continued: "You are only 42 and you have a lifetime ahead of you."
She said she wanted to spend as much time as possible with her two young children as they grew up, particularly over the next few years.
But when Mr Trowell said she had a "duty" to exercise her earning capacity and should try to find some sort of work, rather than relying on her husband to keep her, she replied: "I will certainly try."
The former 'Miss World University' winner wants £414,000 a year for herself and their two children plus extra payments relating to assets.
She has picked out an apartment in Kensington she has described as "appropriate" to her needs.
Mr Fields has offered to pay her £230,000 a year and has suggested she consider living in Battersea, south of the Thames, an area best known for the dogs home and power station, and which is now increasingly fashionable.
Her counsel, Lewis Marks, told the judge: "The husband's case is that my client married him for his money and he indulged her during the marriage.
"He said she constantly made demands for jewellery he could not afford."
She married her five-times-married husband in November 2002. Although a court ruling that a divorce would be granted was made in March 2013, it was never implemented while they battled over money.
Based mostly in Miami, but also with a home in New York, Mr Fields is said to earn almost £1.3m, although his wife thinks it might be as high as £1.9m.
Before the beginning of the trial - which is likely to cost £250,000 in legal fees on top of £1m the couple have already spent - Mr Justice Holman told Ms Fields their fight over £6m in assets was "unedifying".
He said: "It's awful. Don't you think it's awful? It's like a boxing match. You and Mr Fields were married to each other for 10 years, roughly. You have got two children. It really doesn't have to be like this. It should never have got this far.
"Think about what each of you could have done with a million pounds. Just think."
He asked Ms Parfenova whether she had ever experienced litigation before, and she said she had not.
He added: "You should not be going on like this. Frankly, it is very, very unedifying."
He urged them to avoid the "painful destructive experience". (© Daily Telegraph, London)