Divorce court ruling a ‘victory’ for stay-at-home parents

Laura Ashley boss Khoo Kay Peng and his ex-wife Pauline Chai. Picture: PA Wire
Laura Ashley boss Khoo Kay Peng and his ex-wife Pauline Chai. Picture: PA Wire
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A divorce court judge who awarded the ex-wife of a Laura Ashley boss £64 million struck a blow for stay-at-home parents who care for children, a lawyer says.

Khoo Kay Peng, who is based in Malaysia and is non-executive chairman of Laura Ashley Holdings, said he had made a special contribution to the generation of wealth and offered former beauty queen Pauline Chai £15 million.

Ms Chai, of Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, said she had matched that contribution by being a “traditional” wife and said their their fortune should be split 50-50.

Mr Justice Bodey said Dr Khoo’s contribution as breadwinner should be set against Ms Chai’s contribution in the home and in caring for their children.

The judge concluded that the kitty to be split was £161 million and ruled that Ms Chai should get 40% - £64 million.

“This is a victory for the quiet, patient, hard-working parent who commits their career to the home and never asks for fame or glory,” said lawyer Ayesha Vardag, who represented Ms Chai.

“Their part in their marriage is of equal value. It is a victory for careful, painstaking forensic work, establishing correct values and treating assets as owned even when ownership is fervently denied.

“It is a victory for English justice, rightly seen as the fairest, most incorruptible and most non-discriminatory in the world.

“The English courts gave Pauline Chai the protection of their justice because she made her home in our countryside and committed herself into their hands.

“This judgment, by one of the most experienced, diligent, responsible judges our courts have ever seen, is a vindication of her trust.”

Mr Justice Bodey analysed the dispute at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.