Paul McCartney and Heather Mills will be forced to make a decision together today – how much, if any, of their divorce agreement is made public.
They spent six days in court last month in an acrimonious battle to decide the slice Miss Mills should have of the former Beatle’s fortune after four years of marriage.
Mr Justice Bennett will deliver the details of his decision in private at the High Court in London today but will then take instructions from the parties over releasing any of the details.
The judge is believed to be trying to end the speculation over how much McCartney must find from his reputed £825m (€1bn) assets to bring his marriage to an end.
Some lawyers have claimed it could be the biggest contested divorce settlement in British legal history with a final payout of around £60m (€78m).
More conservative estimates put the figure at around £10m (€13m because of the short duration of the marriage and the fact that most of McCartney’s wealth was established decades before the couple met.
Even if one or both of the McCartneys decide to keep the divorce judgment a secret, the whole matter could come into the open if either side is unhappy with the ruling and decides to go to the Court of Appeal.
Appeal hearings of private Family Division cases are held in public so not only will the settlement be in the open, but also any deals covering gagging orders, security arrangements, properties, and custody of their four-year-old daughter, Beatrice.
While McCartney’s legal team, headed by Fiona Shackleton who represented the Prince of Wales in his divorce, has reportedly denied he is worth £835m (€1bn), Miss Mills is alleging the figure is more than £1bn (€1.3bn).
The highest divorce payout awarded by a British court was the £48m (€62m) made to Beverley Charman after her 28-year marriage to insurance magnate John Charman. That sum came from the couple’s total assets of £131m (€170m).
Lawyers specialising in big-money payouts say agreements as high as £100m (€130m) have been reached privately.