From: Reuters
Published February 10, 2008 06:24 AM

McCartney, Mills to lock horns in divorce court

By Paul Majendie

LONDON (Reuters) - Paul McCartney and former model Heather Mills lock horns in a British divorce court on Monday in their battle over how big a slice she will take of the former Beatle's fortune.

After a marriage that lasted less than four years, Mills is believed to be seeking about 30 million pounds ($58.4 million) from McCartney, who is worth an estimated 825 million pounds.

Legal experts say McCartney, 65, has offered less than half that sum to the 40-year-old Mills. They have a daughter, Beatrice.

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Their courtroom tussle, behind closed doors, is likely to last five days and the judge is expected to opt for a figure midway between the two extremes.

The case, one of the biggest divorce actions to come before a British court, is expected to establish legal guidelines on just how much the spouses of the very wealthy can expect after relatively short marriages.

Their acrimonious separation, fought out under the harsh glare of the media spotlight, will enter its final stages in Court 34 of London's ornate Royal Courts of Justice.

Just two courtrooms away, fellow rocker Mick Jagger once battled with his first wife Bianca over their divorce settlement.

At the end of the McCartney-Mills hearings, the judge will almost certainly reserve his judgment and give a written decision at a later date.

But the case may not end there. Either of the two may challenge the ruling in the Court of Appeal or even take it to the House of Lords, Britain's highest court.

Both have one distinct disadvantage for McCartney and Mills -- any hearings would be held in open court.

In November last year, Mills parted company with the law firm advising her in the divorce case. She also lost her main PR adviser, who quit before she gave a series of emotional television interviews about her divorce.

"I've had 18 months of absolute abuse," Mills told GMTV in an interview during which she fought back tears several times.

Mills said a consistently hostile tabloid press had driven her close to suicide. "They've called me a whore, a gold-digger, a fantasist, a liar, the most unbelievably hurtful things," she said.

McCartney, hailed in Britain as a national icon for his part in the world's most famous pop group, declined to respond.

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