LONDON Money may not buy her love, but Paul McCartney's ex sure has a lot more of it now.
One of Britain's bitterest divorces reached a settlement Monday when Heather Mills was awarded $48.6 million an enormous sum, but a fraction of what she sought and a sliver of the former Beatle's $800 million fortune.
Mills declared herself "very, very, very pleased" with a payout that amounted to about $34,000 for each day of her four-year marriage. But some legal experts were surprised the former model, who has been widely portrayed in the British media as a gold-digger, did not get more.
"In the scheme of things, it's quite surprisingly low," said Patricia Hollings, a divorce specialist with London law firm Finers Stephens Innocent. "It is only offering her about 6 percent of his assets. In terms of high-wealth cases it's very low."
A Family Court judge awarded Mills a lump sum of $33 million, plus the assets she currently holds, worth $15.6 million. Mills had sought almost $250 million, according to a summary of the ruling; McCartney had offered $31.6 million, including Mills' own assets.
The settlement was at the low end of many experts' estimates, which varied between $50 million and $100 million. The brevity of the marriage, and the fact most of the former Beatle's fortune was made before he met Mills were factors considered by the judge.
Mills, 40, raised eyebrows by firing her legal team late last year and representing herself in court, but legal experts said that was unlikely to have been a factor in the award.
"I don't regret representing myself," Mills said outside court. "I'm just glad it's over."
McCartney, 65, left after the ruling without saying a word. But Mills emerged from the three-hour private hearing for an impromptu news conference on the courthouse steps railing against McCartney's lawyer, accusing her ex of underestimating his wealth and declaring the settlement had secured her future and that of her 4-year-old daughter, Beatrice. "All of you that have researched know that it was always going to be a figure between 20 and 30 million" pounds, said a visibly agitated Mills. "Paul was offering a lot less than that ... So we're very, very, very pleased."
McCartney also was ordered to pay $70,000 a year for his daughter, and to pay for the child's nanny and school fees.
Mills said that was a paltry amount. "She's obviously meant to travel B class while her father travels A class," she said.
Mills said she would not appeal the settlement, but would challenge the judge's decision to publish his full ruling, saying such details as where her daughter goes to school could compromise the child's security.
Mills also criticized McCartney's lawyer, Fiona Shackleton, who is well known for representing Prince Charles in his divorce from Princess Diana.
"She has called me many, many names before even meeting me when I was in a wheelchair," said Mills, whose own legal team, in an ironic twist, was led by Princess Diana's divorce lawyer until she fired them in November.
Mills, whose left leg was amputated below the knee after a 1993 motorcycle accident, used the ad-hoc news conference to extol her credentials as a champion of charity. She said she had saved $1.2 million by representing herself in court, money "which could quite easily go to charity."
She did not say which charity it might go to, though, or how much she would donate.
Mills' jackpot does not rank with the most expensive celebrity divorces. Basketball star Michael Jordan and singer-songwriter Neil Diamond both had to pay out about $150 million to their ex-wives, according to Forbes magazine.
British divorce settlements are generally lower than U.S. ones. But Mills' payout is only about half the biggest contested divorce settlement in British history $90 million that insurance tycoon John Charman was ordered to pay his wife of almost 30 years in 2006.
Geraldine Morris, a lawyer and editor with LexisNexis Butterworths Family Law Service, said the judge had probably taken into account the relative brevity of the Mills-McCartney union.
"Whilst Sir Paul McCartney's wealth is substantial, the majority of his assets where acquired prior to the marriage and in that regard the case differs substantially from the case of Charman ... where the family wealth was built up during a very lengthy marriage," Morris said.
McCartney and Mills married at an Irish castle in June 2002, four years after the death from cancer of McCartney's first wife, Linda.
The sexagenarian music legend and the thirtysomething charity campaigner were instant tabloid fodder.
Even as they wed, there were reports the former Beatle's adult children, who include the fashion designer Stella McCartney, disapproved of their new stepmother and were suspicious of her motivations for marrying McCartney.
The couple at their wedding had insisted they were in love, and McCartney said they had not signed a prenuptial agreement.
Their daughter, Beatrice, was born the following year, but there were soon reports of trouble in the union. Mills and McCartney separated in April 2006 and McCartney later filed for divorce, alleging "unreasonable behavior" by his wife.
The couple went to court last month to decide on Mills' share of his fortune, which had been estimated at as much as $1.6 billion.
Judge Hugh Bennett, however, found that McCartney's total worth, including business assets, was about $800 million.
When Mills and McCartney separated, they insisted the split was "amicable" and said "both of us still care about each other very much."
The show of unity did not last long. Last year, Mills claimed in interviews that McCartney had failed to protect her and their daughter from slander, death threats and other abuse, and accused the media of persecuting her. In November, Mills said she had been "treated worse than a murderer or a pedophile," despite years of work for land mine victims and animal welfare charities.
Mills became a hate figure for the British press. In tabloid headlines, McCartney was known as "Macca." She was "Lady Mucca."
Now that the case is over, Mills implored the media to just let it be.
"And I really hope now that me and my daughter can have a life and not be followed every single day and that is why I've come out, to give it closure," she said.