A millionaire banker’s wife who found out her husband had taken his mistress to his office party has won the right to divorce him in England.
Catja Thum, 47, won the race to lodge her divorce petition in England, before her financier husband, Oliver Thum, 46, did the same in Germany.
And, as she was first to pull the trigger on the marriage, she can get divorced in England – where judges are viewed as generous to ex-wives in big money cases.
London’s Appeal Court heard Mrs Thum decided on divorce after she ‘discovered he had taken his mistress to his office party and to Rome for her 40th birthday’.
She lodged her divorce petition in London in October 2015, but he said he knew nothing about it until the document was handed to him four months later.
During that time she had ‘appropriated’ almost £800,000 from their Swiss bank accounts, he claims, including a £30,000 gold bar the banker says was his alone.
Mr Thum lodged divorce papers in Germany the very next day – but his ex-wife said that was too late to stop her having the choice of venue.
Co-owner of multi-million-pound private equity fund, Elvaston Capital, he argued it was unfair to make him face divorce proceedings in London.
His homeopath wife’s delay in serving him with the English divorce petition amounted to an ‘abuse of process’, his lawyers argued.
Christopher Pocock QC said she should at least have been obliged to tell her husband ‘reasonably promptly’ that she had launched proceedings in London.
Explaining the delay, however, Mrs Thum said she didn’t want to ramp up tension by hitting her husband with divorce papers over the Christmas period.
Her barrister, Martin Pointer QC, said she had been put in two minds after Mr Thum made ‘intense and repeated pleas’ to save the marriage.
Handing victory to Mrs Thum today, Lord Justice Moylan ruled that, as she got their first, the divorce would go ahead in England.
The English divorce petition was ‘first in time’ and ‘took precedence’ over Mr Thum’s attempt to shift the case to Germany.
Lady Justice King and Lord Justice David Richards agreed that European law dictated that the divorce venue must be England.
The court earlier heard the former couple were both born in Germany but moved to London in 2009, so their two sons could be educated at English schools.
They set up home in a £3million four-bedroom apartment off Gloucester Road, in Kensington.
Mrs Thum filed for divorce on October 26 2015, two days after she heard about her husband’s office party guest, said Mr Pointer.
The petition was served on Mr Thum on the evening of January 19 2016 and he lodged divorce proceedings in Germany on the following day.
Mr Pocock claimed that Mrs Thum had by then travelled to Zurich and withdrawn £760,000 from the couple’s joint bank accounts.
She was also alleged to have ‘appropriated’ items from a safety deposit box, including ‘a 1kg gold bar belonging to her husband’.
At that point, the barrister claimed, Mr Thum was ‘completely unaware’ that his wife had petitioned to divorce him in London.
But Mr Pointer denied that she had appropriated money or property she was not entitled to or that she had engaged in ‘tactical manoeuvring.’
The Appeal Court judges today upheld an earlier ruling that Mrs Thum had not been guilty of unreasonable delay in serving divorce papers on her husband.
Having lodged proceedings in London first, she was entitled to have her divorce – including the division of marital assets – dealt with by an English judge.