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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 August 2006, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
'Differences' led to 48m split
Dell House, Sevenoaks
The couple lived with their two sons at the family home in Sevenoaks
A millionaire is to pay 48m to his former wife in what is thought the biggest divorce award in legal history.

But when John Charman met Beverley more than 30 years ago, they were teenage sweethearts with no money.

During the case, the High Court heard how during their long marriage all the wealth was generated from scratch.

But the couple, from Kent and now in their 50s, were "utterly different in their personality and approach to the priorities of life", the judge said.

The couple became engaged three years after they met.

Their very difference created tension and conflict within this long marriage
Mr Justice Coleridge

During their 27-year-marriage, they had two children and lived at Dell House in Sevenoaks, recently valued at 2.75m.

In a written statement, Mr Justice Coleridge said: "The wife's case is the now-familiar one."

In their long marriage "she played her full part as wife and mother of two now-adult sons".

Mrs Charman, as a witness in the case, was "a quiet, even reticent woman, but steady and determined".

Meanwhile, her husband was "utterly different", a "dynamic, energetic, self-made entrepreneur".

The judge said neither approach was "right or wrong, good or bad".

But he said: "Their very difference created tension and conflict within this long marriage which, unresolved and without compromise on both sides, has eventually led to its destruction."

He added both parties had "an immense feeling of hurt and pain surrounding the marriage breakdown", both blaming each other for the children becoming involved.

'Extraordinary energy'

The High Court judge said Mr Charman had formed a relationship with another woman which may have been the catalyst for the marriage ending but was not the cause of its breakdown.

Mr Charman now has two large homes in America, in Atlanta and Palm Beach, and he also rents a property in Bermuda.

Concluding, the judge said it was a case in a "very small category" where the wealth created was "of extraordinary proportions from extraordinary talent and energy".

He said Mr Charman's interest in the family home in Kent would be transferred to his wife, and she would exit the marriage with 37% of the assets.


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