The former model Susan Sangster has already been awarded around £18million from three divorces, and is looking for another payout when a judge in the High Court next month rules on her fourth divorce.
Whatever would Caroline Norton have made of her?
Caroline was a moving force behind one of the most emancipating pieces of legislation in our history, the Marriage and Divorce Act, which became law 150 years ago this month.
By the time the Bill passed, she had experienced first-hand the suffering and despair which were the lot of many married women at that time. Attractive, witty and intelligent, Caroline was the grand-daughter of the playwright Richard Sheridan.
She had everything going for her, except money. The family was not rich, and to help improve their prospects, she agreed to marry, in 1827, the younger son of a peer, the ambitious George Norton, MP for Guildford.
It was a fraught marriage from the start.
They disagreed about everything: Caroline favoured social reform; George was a hard-line Tory. In those days, a wife did not openly disagree with her husband.
George beat his wife. Sometimes their servants had to intervene to protect her. Twice, Caroline left her husband. Each time she came back for the sake of their children.
By the 1830s Caroline was an acknowledged society beauty with a flourishing political salon.
She was close - some said intimately so - to the Home Secretary and future Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne.
When George Norton realised that Melbourne was not going to help him up the greasy pole, he sued him, citing adultery.
It was a spurious charge which the court soon dismissed through lack of evidence, but in his fury, George barred Caroline from the family home and forbade her access to their children.
Caroline began to realise that she was helpless in the eyes of the law.
In the early Victorian era, a woman entering upon marriage had almost no rights. All her property automatically became her husband's. Even if she had her own land, her husband received the income from it.
A husband had the right to lock up his wife. If he beat her, she had no legal redress. The law mostly removed itself from marital relations.
Married women were put into the same category as lunatics, idiots, outlaws and children.
Even her children were not hers, according to the law. And if a woman left the home to take refuge elsewhere, as Caroline did twice, her husband could lock her out, without needing a court order.
As for divorce, there were only three ways of applying for a separation, 150 years ago, all of them under the control of the Church of England, which regarded it as an offence against God's will, each of them with a heavy penalty.
One was if the marriage was a nullity, through impotence, insanity or potential incest.
In those cases, the Church permitted the divorcees to remarry, but rendered their children illegitimate.
A second was available in cases of adultery, sodomy or physical violence: it did not let the petitioners remarry, but permitted a separation.
A third was to get a separation and then sue the spouse for adultery. If successful, Parliament eventually allowed the couple a proper divorce which did not make their children illegitimate.
Yet this long, expensive process was out of reach of nearly everyone, as the Church intended it to be.
Caroline was not a suffragette, nor even a feminist, but she was enraged that the divorce laws should be so unjust.
So with the help of a sympathetic MP she persuaded Parliament to pass a law allowing mothers who had not had adultery proved against them the right of custody of their young children.
It was the first small step on a remarkable campaign that would transform marriage - and society - for ever.
Caroline continued to dash off pamphlets enlisting MPs in her bid for further liberalisation of the law.
She was 50 when, in 1858, largely due to her unflagging efforts, the Bill she had fought for was passed into law.
But it was only after George died, in 1877 that Caroline, now aged 69, could re-marry - this time to Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, who gave her three months of happiness before her death.
The new Act transferred jurisdiction from Church courts to a new civil court - a principle which gave rise to the divorce courts of day, and which set in motion the social revolution that has ended in today's statistic that 40per cent of marriages end in divorce.
It permitted men to be divorced on the grounds of adultery and women to be divorced on the same grounds so long as there was also physical cruelty, incest, rape, sodomy, bestiality, bigamy or two years' desertion.
It also gave women control over money from bequests and investments, and was the first crack in the wall which barred women from sexual and financial equality. Traditionalists were outraged.
There was still a long way to go. Infant Custody Acts of 1873 and 1886 built upon Caroline Norton's measure. The Married Women's Property Acts of 1870 and 1882 gave married women the same rights over property as unmarried women: they could retain their capital, possessions and wages.
But no grounds for divorce other than adultery were recognised: women were still second-class citizens. Well into the 20th century, women had no remedies against abusive husbands.
A solicitor defending a husband against an application for separation could argue that, "in Blackburn and in Wigan it is the usual thing for the husband, when he comes home at night, to give his wife a kicking and beating".
The children were still legally the husband's, and if a couple separated, the husband had first claim to them, unless he had a conviction for assault.
Divorce was still the preserve of the rich - among the peerage, one-third of the marriages of the 1900s ended in divorce.
In Edwardian times only one politician held the torch for reform of the divorce laws.
Earl Russell in 1902 spoke up in the House of Lords for allowing trial separations, making the legal position of men and women equal and giving the poor an equal right to divorce.
He argued that the law was illogical and unjust, that it encouraged immorality by denying unhappily married people release.
The Lords reacted with horror, moving that his Bill be rejected, not least because they believed Russell "had form".
The elder brother of Bertrand Russell, the earl was a distinguished barrister who had been thrown in jail, after being convicted of bigamy.
He had married a harridan, who in the Lord Chancellor's words "had poisoned the whole atmosphere in which he lived".
Having - as he thought - divorced his wife, after getting a decree of judicial separation, Russell went to Nevada where he married an American divorcee Mollie Cooke.
But his British wife had successfully appealed against the decree, and when Russell returned to England he was found to have been in defiance of the law.
He was sentenced to three months in jail - although at the end of it his divorce went through and his marriage to his second wife was made legal.
The divorce issue would not go away.
While Russell continued his campaign in the Lords, a Royal Commission was appointed to consider reforms in the divorce laws.
The mood was changing. On the throne, in place of prim Queen Victoria, was Edward VII, whose succession of mistresses gave a lighter tone to public life. But the Church still objected.
The Archbishop of Canterbury abhorred divorce as unChristian, also expressing his alarm at "extending those facilities to classes other than those who take advantage of them now".
The Suffragette movement and the rise in the use of contraception sharpened fears that women and the lower classes were getting out of control.
After three years of hearings, the Royal Commission delivered their report. The majority, comprising social, medical and legal experts, favoured reform.
The minority, the Church militants, resisted. The Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, shelved the issue, and it didn't return until after World War I.
It re-emerged into a different world. The war had made people aware that life was for living.
Promiscuity was no longer associated with the upper-classes: it was down to tennis-club level.
A kiss no longer signalled an engagement. Young people smoked and drank, and women put on lipstick in public.
They talked about "companionate marriage" which amounted to living in sin but being faithful to one partner.
It was rumoured that in Los Angeles and New York one girl in 10 carried a contraceptive in her vanity case. Gradually, at least among the Bright Young
Things, the American view prevailed that marriage was a social habit, not a sacrament.
In 1918 there were more divorces than ever before; in 1919 there were half as many again.
Divorce still held a social stigma in stuffy circles, and it was still a matter of honour for the man to take the blame in adultery lawsuits - even if they had to spend a weekend with a "woman unknown" in a hotel to gather the necessary evidence from a chambermaid.
But divorces only truly proliferated after the 1923 Matrimonial Causes Act which established equality between the sexes in divorce cases, and made divorce more accessible to poorer people.
Divorce numbers rose, and the most telling drawback to divorce was newspaper publicity.
Papers revelled in the 1921 case of Archdeacon Wakeford, accused of committing adultery at the Bull Hotel in Peterborough, in which the verdict appeared to stand or fall on chambermaid's evidence of whether the Archdeacon was wearing pyjamas or a nightgown.
Despite his assertion that he had never worn pyjamas, Wakefield lost his appeal and soon after died.
The most gripping high-society divorce case concerned John "Stilts" Russell, heir to Lord Ampthill, whose wife Christabel, refused to have a child or to use contraceptives.
Though this meant Russell could not have full sexual intercourse with her, a child was born - due to what she claimed were his "Hunnish practices". The Press had a field day.
They reported on her appearance (Christabel's "ribbon-edged black hat hid most of her hair, and its broad rim cast shadows over her pale, girlish face"), her love of ballroom dancing, not shared by her husband who preferred dressing in women's clothes, and the clairvoyant who had detected the pregnancy.
The mystery of this immaculate conception remained: had her husband been sleepwalking?
Russell simply claimed that his wife had committed adultery with one of the 30 or so men she claimed to have been in love with.
Yet none of the men could be produced and Christabel won her case, whereupon she set up a Mayfair shop which was wildly successful.
Meanwhile, the public cogitated on what the 'Hunnish practices' might have been.
For the next 40 years, churches continued to preach the sanctity of marriage and the sin of fornication.
Yet the men and women of Britain tended to respond to different imperatives, affected by war and peace, depression and plenty.
Divorce rates peaked in 1928, then plummeted 40per cent lower in 1933 at the height of the Depression.
At the Divorce Division of the London High Court, 1841 cases were brought in the Easter term of 1949.
In 1941, during the Blitz, they fell to 802.
Petitions to the divorce courts were five times higher in 1945 than in 1939, a sign of the sexualfreefor-all which began when the GIs landed in Britain and ended with couples realising that their separation during the war had ruined their relationship.
(The 12 months after 1945 saw 38,000 divorces in England and Wales - a number that rose to 60,197 by 1947.)
What had been for many an unthinkable social disgrace had now to be accepted in every community, whatever was said behind neighbours' backs.
A poll in 1949 found that 57 per cent "more or less approved" of divorce as a regrettable necessity.
Not until the 1960s were the last strictures against free and fair divorce finally dumped.
The doctrine of "the guilty party" was abandoned and desertion of one's spouse after two years was made a cause for divorce.
Finally, in 1969, the Matrimonial Property Act declared that housework should be regarded as a financial contribution to the family.
The impetus for this Act, which provided Britain with the most humane divorce laws in the world, came from the most unlikely source - the Church of England.
At last, Caroline Norton had been vindicated. Women were now recognised in their own right.
"Why write? Why struggle? You will do no good!" she wrote in one of her pamphlets, "but if everyone lacked courage with that doubt, nothing would ever be achieved in this world."
Caroline's campaign was a remarkable achievement, granting women equal status in marriage and no longer obliging them to endure life with a loveless, unfaithful or cruel husband.
And yet one cannot help but feel that were Caroline able to survey the social landscape today, where divorce has become so commonplace and so readily available that it scarcely raises an eyebrow, she might well think her legacy had been cheapened.
Above all, she would be horrified to hear of those "career divorcees" for whom the divorce courts are not a lifeline out of misery, but a very profitable enterprise.
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