Wendi hires tough divorce lawyer for split with Murdoch
Wendi Deng has recruited a formidable New York lawyer to handle her divorce from Rupert Murdoch, indicating that she may be poised to drive a hard bargain from the billionaire media tycoon.
Despite being bound by a prenuptial agreement, Ms Deng has hired William Zabel, an expert in estates and family law, who has represented several women in divorces from wealthy businessmen.
Mr Zabel (76) has warned that "there is no guarantee" that a prenuptial deal will spare a couple a costly and acrimonious split. "In fact, its validity often becomes a separate, hotly contested legal issue," he said.
Last month, Mr Murdoch, the 82-year-old chairman of News Corporation, filed for divorce from Ms Deng, his 44-year-old wife of 14 years, in New York, where the couple share a penthouse.
His court filing, which cited no details of wrongdoing, indicated a desire to settle the separation quickly and quietly – a plan that may have been disrupted by Ms Deng's new legal recruit.
Mr Zabel has replaced Pamela Sloan, a long-time representative of Ms Deng who advised her on the prenuptial agreement signed with Mr Murdoch before their 1999 wedding.
While that deal and two postnuptial agreements are said to cover much of Mr Murdoch's £7.3bn (€8.4bn) fortune, marital property and custody rights to their two daughters may be in dispute. Ms Deng is also known to have been furious when her husband announced in 2006 that their daughters would not have the same stake in the Murdoch family trust as his four older children. (© Daily Telegraph, London)