Paul McCartney’s divorce from Heather Mills was one of the most notable splits of the 21st century, and it ended with a considerable payout for the latter. As a leading member of perhaps the most popular music group in history, McCartney’s divorce was bound to attract attention. But the exact details of this divorce made it even more noteworthy, and it is worth looking back on the legal process. 

Paul Assembled a “Legal Dream Team”

Prior to the divorce proceedings, Paul McCartney teamed up with some of the most renowned barristers in the United Kingdom. This included none other than Sir Nicholas Mostyn, also known informally as “Mr. Payout” in legal circles. Paul also enlisted the help of his long-term solicitor, Fiona Shackleton. Both legal professionals handled a wide range of cases during their illustrious careers. Shackleton had handled numerous cases for the British Royal Family, including the divorce of Lady Diana and the current King of England. However, she reportedly “fell out” with the royal family before representing Paul. 

During the Beatle’s divorce, Heather became bitter and resentful of Shackleton – eventually referring to her as a “nasty woman.” These tensions eventually reached a boiling point, with Heather pouring a jug of water onto Shackleton during the final settlement hearing. Shackleton went on to become a successful conservative politician. 

Although Mostyn and Shackleton were clearly the “cream of the crop,” this legal dream team could not prevent Paul from facing various allegations during divorce proceedings. Among other things, Heather accused him of being constantly drunk and high. She also claimed that he had been physically abusive toward her on numerous occasions.  

It is difficult to say who “won” the divorce between Paul and Heather. Initially, Mills sought a payout of 125 million pounds. In 2020, it was estimated that the former Beatle’s net worth was 800 million pounds. At the time of the divorce, his net worth was about half that. If she was successful in her goal, she would have walked away with a serious chunk of McCartney’s fortune. As it turned out, however, she only received a payout of about 24 million pounds.

24 million equated to over 50 million American dollars back when this divorce was resolved, and to call this a “low settlement” is slightly ridiculous. Indeed, many media organizations framed this as a serious financial blow for Paul, who had already given Heather millions of pounds in various gifts during the marriage. 

In truth, Mills probably would have received more if she had not decided to fire her lawyers and represent herself. In the end, the judge presiding over this case concluded that “much of her evidence, both written and oral, was not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid.”

In contrast, Paul remained silent for most of the divorce and adopted a sophisticated demeanor that painted him in a positive light. Mills’ popularity nosedived during the whole affair, and the public generally opined that much of what she claimed was completely unreliable. In the end, this was one of the most interesting divorce cases of recent memory – and it played out more like a sitcom than a legal proceeding. With all its ups and downs, however, Heather Mills still walked away with millions of dollars.