A wealthy oil worker and his estranged wife who have run up nearly £1 million in lawyers’ bills fighting over their children should be more considerate to each other, a judge has suggested.
Lord Justice Peter Jackson said the family had “every conceivable material advantage” but money had not bought happiness.
He said instead the “pursuit and accumulation of wealth” had created conditions which left everyone “spoilt for choice and thoroughly miserable”.
The judge has outlined his thoughts in a ruling published following a private hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
He said the family could not be identified.
The parents were Russian and their marriage had broken down more than a decade ago.
Lord Justice Jackson said the man had done so well out of the oil business that he felt able to retire in his early 40s.
The judge said that, following the latest hearing, he had concluded that two teenage sons who were living with their mother in England should move to Switzerland to live with their father.
“In a case of this kind, where a family has every conceivable material advantage, it is easy to forget the old truth that money cannot buy you happiness,” he said.
“It certainly has not done for this family.
“Instead, the pursuit and accumulation of wealth … has created conditions that have left everyone spoilt for choice and thoroughly miserable.”
He added: “If the parents and children cannot return to a more considerate, a more normal way of behaving, the future is bleak.”
The judge added: “The children have grown used to the usual trappings of an opulent lifestyle, lavish homes, privileged schools, incessant international travel, being constantly surrounded by staff of one kind or another.
“I do not think that the boys – and perhaps the parents either – realise that this is a lifestyle lived only by a tiny minority of people who have a very particular and perhaps rather limited world view.
“For (the two teenage boys), this is their norm, but instead of providing them with opportunities, it has only given them problems.
“In dealing with all this material ‘success’, the family has forgotten how to do the simple things.”
Lord Justice Jackson analysed the case recently when based in the Family Division of the High Court.
He has now been promoted to the Court of Appeal.