By Eleonora DiFranco and Megan Bennie
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SPOTLIGHT: ANT MCPARTLIN’S DIVORCE

By Eleonora DiFranco and Megan Bennie

TV presenter, Ant McPartlin of ‘Ant and Dec’, has been a standard fixture in most of our own homes over the last decade. His participation in programs such as “Britain’s Got Talent”, “I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!”, and “Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway” has made him well-known in the entertainment world. 

With fame comes an increased public interest in a celebrity’s personal life. So, it is no surprise that the media have shown interest in his 23-year-long relationship with make-up artist Lisa Armstrong. The couple met in 1994 during a performance on the “Smash Hits tour” in Newcastle and married in 2006. However back in January 2018, after 11 years of marriage, the “I’m A Celeb” host confirmed that he would be filing for divorce.

There has been speculation as to the reasons why the pair decided to go their separate ways. In June 2017, Ant entered rehab, having become addicted to prescription painkillers and alcohol. He has admitted that his issues with addiction and depression had put a strain on his marriage, so much so, that he did not reunite with his wife after rehab. Instead, he moved into a rented house not far from his marital home. Moreover, their difficulties in trying to start a family are thought to have also placed the couple’s relationship under strain. Both have publicly declared they intend an amicable split.

Since announcing his divorce, Ant has re-entered rehab for a second time after a drink-driving accident. He was recently fined £86,000 and now has a criminal record.  Ant left rehab last week and has been remorseful for his wrongdoing. Meanwhile, his soon to be ex-wife, Lisa Armstrong, appears to be active on social media, liking tweets that are related to finding new love. The pair seem to be ‘out of the woods’ after a tough few months.

Is an addiction grounds for divorce?

The current law in the UK does not allow for ‘no fault’ divorces unless the couple has been separated for more than two years, and is very strict on the grounds on which a divorce can be granted prior to two years’ separation.

Drug-taking and alcohol abuse are considered amongst the factors that would generally constitute behaviour considered by the courts as sufficient to end a marriage, so they can be a valid ground for divorce in UK law. However, it really depends on the circumstances of the case whether or not it will be granted. For example, the fact that Ant entered rehab and has since steered clear of falling back into bad habits could prove a problem for his divorce proceedings because it demonstrates that the unreasonable behaviour does not exist any longer and as such should not create additional friction in the relationship which would lead to its irrevocable breakdown.

Splitting up the property

Because of the couple’s high net worth, the settlement of financial assets is going to be one of the crucial matters in the divorce – Ant’s net worth alone is estimated to be around £62 million. It is likely one of the most substantial assets the couple has is their £6 million mansion in West London.  Many couples have difficulties in turning one household into two, but it is likely that Ant and Lisa will have enough assets to do so fairly easily.

While Lisa has had a successful career of her own, it is more than likely Ant who has earned most of the matrimonial assets. The courts treat marriage as a partnership and consider all money, regardless of who earned it, as joint matrimonial property, so it is likely that Lisa could be entitled to around 50% of the assets in the marriage. If Lisa’s solicitors did push for a 50% split, this would make it one of the highest pay-outs in the history of UK celebrity divorces.

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