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Businessman and Conservative Party donor Sir Andrew Cook was contesting a High Court trial with his ex-spouse, interior designer Baroness Angelika Hirsch-Stronstorff. The couple, who had been married for three years, were unable to reach an agreement over division of assets and the divorce settlement. In total, they have racked up over £1 million in legal bills arguing the case.

Representatives of Baroness Hirsch-Stronstorff, believed to be worth around £4 million, had asked for £2.8 million as part of the divorce settlement. Her former husband, worth at least £25 million, only offered her £2 million.

Neither party was arguing that their combined wealth should be split evenly or shared, but they did disagree on who owned certain property and furnishings. One seemingly trivial yet surprisingly acrimonious sticking point was the ownership of the curtains at a house they shared in London. Sir Andrew, who is keeping the property, argued that the curtains should remain with him. His Austrian ex-wife disagreed, setting out the position that as she was keeping the contents of the house, the curtains belong to her.

The disagreement has now finally been settled, with Mr Justice Holman in the Family Division of the High Court ruling that the curtains should remain in the property. However, if Sir Andrew should sell the curtains with the property in the next five years, the proceeds of the sale should be split between the couple.

Judge describes legal row as “ridiculous”

Commenting while the case was ongoing, Mr Justice Holman told the pair:

“It seems utterly, utterly ridiculous.”

“We are only arguing about somewhere between £1 million and £2 million between people who are worth somewhere between £25 million and £30 million. It is pretty depressing, frankly.”

At the time, he urged the couple to find a resolution and “put this to bed”.

The importance of compromise during divorce

Sadly, arguments over seemingly trivial things and an unwillingness to compromise is all too common in divorce cases.

Many people don’t actually care too much about the items, money or property involved in the dispute, but instead channel their emotions stemming from the divorce – hurt, anger, distress – into digging in their heels over the smallest details. During separation, many people don’t want to feel like they’re ‘losing’ or conceding anything to their ex-partners – so they argue to save face, even if the subject of the disagreement isn’t actually worth the legal costs, animosity or delay in the divorce process.

Here at Wirral divorce solicitors Tracey Miller Family Law, we can offer expert advice and guidance during a divorce, to help you stay level-headed, make smart decisions and crucially, know when and how to compromise for the sake of your future, family and happiness. Get in touch today to find out how we can help.