A New York Divorce Attorney weighs in on the McCartney Mess

Paul McCartney, former Beatle extraordinaire, and his wife Heather Mills McCartney are in the throes of a particularly messy and public divorce. What would Ms. Mills-McCartney be entitled to if the divorce were taking place under New York Divorce laws?
Well, to start with, New York is an equitable distribution state. That means the courts look to what is equitable under the circumstances. What is equitable means what is fair. Is it fair that after a 3 year marriage that the soon to be ex Ms. McCartney should be entitled to half of her husband’s Billion dollar fortune? Unless she had a hand in helping him build his considerable fortune, the answer to that is probably no. She would be entitled to that portion of his estate that ACCRUED or was earned during the marriage and nothing more. Most of Mr. McCartney’s assets are SEPARATE PROPERTY–earned before the marriage and is therefore off the table.
Heather Mills McCartney would probably be entitled to receive maintenance of some sort since Paul McCartney does have considerably more assets and a higher net worth than she does. If this divorce were taking place in New York she would probably get life-time maintenance–especially since her employment options would be limited on account of her disability (she has a prosthetic leg). Plus the argument for maintenance would be strengthened by the fact that the marital standard of living between them was so high. I would imagine that she lived fairly well (and this is just a hunch) upon becoming the wife of the Knight. She would also be entitled under New York Divorce law to continue to wallow in the largesse of his fortune–in spite of the short tenure of the marriage–because somehow, that would be deemed fair. But she wouldn’t get social security benefits (assuming he had it since one has to be married at least ten years to get that.) The McCartneys were only married three years.
Plus there is the question of child support for little Beatrice, the precious little thing that resulted from the delicious procreative activities between the now estranged parents. In New York a non-custodial parent pays 17% of his or her adjusted gross income in child support for one child, till the child turns 21. But of course this is on the first $80,000 of income. Anything over that the judge has discretion in determining exactly how much the parent has to pay. But what is 17% of a billion?  I’m thinking somewhere in the region of $170,000,000.00. Bear in mind that all of this is assuming that Sir McCartney did not have the foresight to get a pre-nup. In which case he may need to consult with Donald Trump’s divorce attorneys before he gets married again.
The bottom line is, if the McCartneys were getting divorced in New York, Heather Mills McCartney would probably get a lot less than she will get in England, or even in other states in the US which are community property states. However, either ways she slices her cake, Ms. Mills McCartney is not going to come away with nothing. She will at least get a little bit of frosting. I think she will be licking her fingers for a very, very long time!