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Wealthy women shouldn't marry

Victoria Luckwell the daughter of a UK millionaire


The daughter of one of the UK’s richest men has warned wealthy women against marriage after her “gold-digger” ex-husband was awarded a £1.2 million in a divorce payout.

Victoria-Luckwell

Victoria Luckwell, 37, whose father Mike set up The Moving Picture Company, and is worth an estimated £135 million or $222 million, said the current legal system in Britain acted as a “disincentive” for the rich to wed, because they had no way of protecting their family’s assets.

Her comments came after her ex-husband, Frankie Limata was handed a £1.2 million payout by a judge, despite having signed numerous prenuptial agreements waiving his right to any of his wife’s money. Miss Luckwell has been told by a judge that she must provide him with £900,000 to buy a home plus £300,000 to pay off his debts, buy a car and furnish his home.

As she left court she said: “Sadly I am left to conclude there is a strong financial disincentive for a wealthy woman to marry if she cannot be   assured of protecting her family’s assets. Simply put, this is a gold-digger’s charter.”

Her 71-year-old father added: “A law which rewards a gold digger after signing three legal agreements merits real criticism.”

The couple, who have three children, met in 2005 and prior to their marriage unemployed Mr Limata signed three agreements promising not to make any claims either during or after the marriage on his wife’s property or gifts provided by her family.

But when they split in 2012 he went to court asking for £2.2 million to keep him in the style to which he had become accustomed.

Today after a lengthy hearing earlier this month Family Division judge Mr. Justice Holman ordered her to provide him with £900,000 to buy a home to live in while their three children, aged between two and eight, are growing   up.

In addition she must also provide him with £300,000 to furnish the property and pay off his debts.

Miss Luckwell currently lives in a £6.7 million home in central London, but is now fearful that she may have to sell it in order to meet the payments to her ex.

After the ruling she said her family were “pleased” that the judge had recognised Mr Limata had contributed no capital to the marriage, with all the finances coming from her family.

She said: “We are all distressed that today Frankie was given a financial award at all, given the unforgivable breaches of his promises.

“This has been a painful public hearing during which Frankie made cruel and wholly unjustified criticisms of my family.

“Important public policy considerations arise from this case. Unless Parliament enacts the recent Law Commission’s proposals on nuptial agreements, the law will remain in a state of uncertainty.

“This results in very costly and public hearings a well as enormous emotional distress and financial uncertainty. My recent experience is exactly what nuptial agreements are designed to eliminate.”

Mr Limata claimed he had been forced to “live like a tramp” with all his possessions in bin bags after the couple split up.

He previously turned down an £850,000 offer to settle the case and the judge criticised the legal costs run up by the couple of more than £657,000.

In reaching his findings the judge said : “They do both need a suitable home in which to live. Victoria has one. Frankie does not.”

He said the couple both had a “high” standard of living, allowing them to take   expensive foreign holidays, eat at top restaurants and drive luxury cars.

Miss Luckwell is considering whether to launch an appeal against the judgment but is this case an anomaly or is there a concerted effort to dissuade people away from the idea of marriage?


Women continue to choose to get married, despite feminism and our economic freedom, says Debora L. Spar in this excerpt from “Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfection.” Better health and wealth appear to be two benefits from this union.

By  Debora L. Spar

I got married on an unseasonably cold day in April. It had rained hard for the past three weeks, and so when the sun emerged that morning we took it as a good omen. I wore an ivory dress and carried roses. My husband wore a suit his father had sewn for him and a face green with nerves. We held the ceremony in a chapel, but had cautiously removed any visible signs of Christ. The Unitarian minister was glorious; my mother-in-law sobbed; and the food was fine. At least I think it was fine. I don’t actually recall eating any of it.

Today, the bridal industry in the United States accounts each year for approximately $72 billion in sales. The entire bottled water industry, by comparison, generates about $11 billion a year; bookstores account for only $16 billion. Fourteen percent of the bridal industry’s total comes from the sale of engagement rings; roughly another 5 percent from wedding dresses. Each of these components is regarded by Wall Street analysts as essentially “recession- proof,” with couples regularly spending an average of $20,000 on their special day.

To critics, our enduring obsession with the white wedding proves the triumph of both capitalism and conservatism. Harking back to marriage’s contractual past, for example, Jaclyn Geller argues that weddings are inherently destructive, symbols of nothing more than the ancient rites by which women were traditionally “given”– often sold– to men. Wedlock,” she states, “is tainted by the historical residue of female subordination; an overwhelming, oppressive social history that many modern brides and grooms are simply not aware of.”

Intellectually, I totally buy their arguments. Weddings are anachronistic. They are expensive and overwrought and mundane in their conformity. At the turn of the 21st century, there is no rational reason why women should get married at all anymore, much less why they should do so with all the lace and frippery embraced by Queen Victoria. She was Queen Victoria, after all, who ruled over a now much-despised colonial empire and didn’t talk much about sex. Just because she chose to marry her prince in a pure white gown and lacy veil, why should I? And all my friends? And pretty much everyone I’ve ever known?

Inexplicable Choices

Why, for heaven’s sake, should twice-divorced women go through the same ceremony all over again, cooing those “till death do us part” vows that didn’t work the first time around? And why, after decades of fighting valiantly against the heterosexual status quo, would gay and lesbian couples choose to embrace the same cakes, the same rings, the same dress-and-tuxedo affairs? Surely, Geller has to be right: “Marriage mania in modern American women did not arise sui generis. It is the result of millennia of law and social custom that have valued women solely in terms of their relationship to men, predicating female respectability on male stewardship.”

Yet one has to wonder whether legions of women–smart, confident, well educated, ostensibly independent women– are really being hoodwinked to such a massive degree. Because we know, after all, the rough history of marriage. We know our mothers did it, and our grandmothers, and all those long-forgotten ancestors who were likely roped into marrying boys they didn’t like at all. We know that feminism freed us from economic dependence and that the sexual revolution gave us the ability to control both pleasure and reproduction. But there we go again, marching down aisles and blushing beneath virginal veils. Something deeper has to be going on here, something more primal than simply striving to tie a public knot.

One possibility is health. In study after study, research shows that married individuals live longer, healthier lives than their single counterparts. Single women, for example, suffer from mortality rates that are about 50 percent higher than those of married women; for single men, the differential is a shocking 250 percent. Single men and women both report higher rates of depression and anxiety than do married men and women, and young adults experience notable drops in depression and drinking problems after they tie the knot. “Having a partner who is committed for better or for worse, in sickness and in health,” one marriage study concludes, “makes people happier and healthier.”

Economic Benefits

A second possibility is economics. Harking back to more ancient drivers of marriage, research also shows that married couples are generally wealthier than their single counterparts. In 2009, for example, the median household income of married couples in the United States was $71,830, compared to $48,084 for “male house holders” and $32,597 for “female house holders.” In 2004, median assets for married couples were roughly five times those of unmarried men and women. Increasingly, it does not make a difference–economically, at least–whether the husband or wife is the primary wage earner, or whether either or both of them work. Statistically, men and women are just better off in the state of marriage.

Sensible though they may sound, however, both the health and wealth explanations of marriage present two kinds of problems. The first relate to causality, the second to credibility. Put simply, the causality problem means that it’s hard to determine whether marriage causes people to be healthier and wealthier, or if healthier and wealthier people are more likely to be married. In the United States, this problem is confounded by the bleak fact that our poorest and least educated citizens are also the least likely to be married. Clearly, these populations suffer from a lack of two-income families (and from the poor single mother-led families that predominate as a result). But this complex situation doesn’t reveal whether marriage actually causes people to become either wealthier or healthier.

Meanwhile, the idea that people would actively pursue marriage in the hope of becoming wealthier or healthier strains our credulity, at least a bit. Yes, we must contend with the intensely annoying reality of “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?” And with tabloid tales of 26-year-old bombshells who breezily wed geriatric oil barons. But even if women (or men) really were regularly marrying for money, it wouldn’t explain why they spend so much money doing it.

Interestingly, research on the topic of marital choice is decidedly slim. There are volumes on how to get married; even more volumes on how to stay married; and dozens of academic works that probe the history and economics of this strange custom. But there is blessedly little understanding of just why we still do it. Indeed, as one scholar of marriage states, “I think the interesting question is not why so few people are marrying, but rather, why so many people are marrying, or planning to marry, or hoping to marry, when cohabitation and single parenthood are widely acceptable options.”

Excerpted from “” by Debora L. Spar, published in September 2013 by Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2013 by Debora L. Spar. All rights reserved.

Debora L. Spar is the president of Barnard College, the women’s undergraduate college affiliated with Columbia University in New York City. She received her doctorate in government from Harvard University and was the Spangler Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Spar is the author of numerous books, including “Ruling the Waves: Cycles of Discovery,” “Chaos, and Wealth from the Compass to the Internet” and “The Baby Business: How Money, Science and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception.” Follow her on Twitter @deboraspar.


Working women: what’s the secret to higher earnings? Marry poor. The male/female earning gap has many sources. One notable one is that some women aren’t aggressive enough. They don’t ask for raises and promotions; enter the “lean-in” mantra.

But even among high achievers, top tier MBAs like Sheryl Sandberg, not everyone wants it all—if they can afford to eschew it. Economists Marianne Bertrand and Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence Katz tracked the careers of University of Chicago MBAs from 1990 to 2000 to untangle wage disparities among potentially high earners. They hoped to understand why there are so few women CEOs and hedge fund managers. They found a significant earnings gap between men and women which grew over time.

graph mba

“Dynamics of the Gender Gap for Young Professionals in the Financial and Corporate Sectors.” Marianne Bertrand, Claudia Goldin, and Lawrence F. Katz

The large and growing gap is not due to timid female MBAs. Some of it is attributed to different skills, jobs before the MBA and that male business students typically take more finance classes and women more marketing classes. But a majority of the difference is due to women taking time out of the labor force and then working less after having children. Women without children usually don’t take time off and most of their earnings disparity with men can be explained by differences in their skills.

 

It’s notable that the earnings of some women did not fall very much after they had children and any drop in income did not persist after a few years. But these women often had a “lower” earning spouse (income under $100,000). A large and sustained drop in income is highly correlated with having children and a high-earning husband.

 

It’s not clear why that might be. It could be high-achieving women chose less ambitious husbands, anticipating that they’ll be more available to help with childcare.  Sheryl Sandberg concedes that leaning in and having a family requires a supportive partner. Or it could be once some women had children they took less demanding jobs simply because they had the luxury of more work life balance. In light of this, advice that urges women to marry well seem all the more antiquated. If you want to have it all, best not aspire to being one half of a power-couple.

 

You can follow Allison on Twitter at @AllisonSchrager.