Headline-catching divorce settlements awarded against professional sportsmen are a visible sign of a trend that started five years ago, accord-ing to Robin Rowland, a family law barrister at Birmingham-based No 5 Chambers.
His comments follow the multi-million divorce of top golfer Colin Montgomerie.
Montgomerie, worth an estimated £30 million, finally signed a deal last week after months of negotiations to avoid facing a battle in court.
His former wife Eimear agreed to the one-off payment - thought to be in the region of £8 million and more than double the value originally expected - but gave up her rights to any of the golfer's future earnings.
Mr Rowland said: "For those cases that do reach court, there are special factors at work when divorces involving high earning professional sportsmen are assessed.
"They can have a short working life during which they earn large sums, but after their career ends, many are not equipped to sustain substantial income levels.
"Courts therefore make substantial awards and expect wives to invest the cash for their future.
"Sometimes, they will order that the settlement be reviewed again. This gives the court an ongoing influence on securing fairness as they see it and they would almost certainly penalise excessive spending."
While there are special circumstances at work in celebrities' divorces, settlements do create real challenges for wealthy people, for example entrepreneurs who have built up large companies, he notes.
Mr Rowland went on: "Nowadays, courts look at splitting the assets up between the parties, whereas they would once have awarded the partner enough to live on, leaving the other with the rest.
"In the case of business assets, there is an element of goodwill which reflects future profits, a parallel to a sportsman's earnings. Valuing this asset is not easy.
"Nevertheless the partner can now expect a much larger share, so much so that this can lead to real problems if there is not enough cash around to meet this requirement."
Mr Rowland points out that there are ways to reduce the impact of settlements affecting unquoted businesses,
"As a starting point, you look at the methods of calculating goodwill to see whether different assumptions or projections lead to a different, and perhaps fairer and more accurate value," he said.
"Then you consider other non-business assets to see whether an appropriate split can be achieved without causing problems for the business.
"You can avoid these problems if the values of non-business assets are substantial. If we are talking about the husband's business, then the wife's payout can be in the form of the remaining assets leaving the business stake intact.
"Even if it is not possible to take this route the whole way, you can ask for a payment schedule which would take the sting out of the situation as far as the business is concerned."
All this though does not detract from the basic approach that the courts have taken since they decided that the wife's role for example in building up the business was effectively an equal one, though her contribution was at
home. There is also a strong framework of anti-avoidance legislation, with the courts being able to set transactions aside if they were carried out to avoid the obligations of the divorce.
Mr Rowland advises against taking the law on in this way.
He said: "My experience is that such arrangements, which for example can include trusts, usually fail and the litigation costs along the way can be enormous.
"However, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the impact of failed marriages. Pre-nuptial agreements, though they do not have the full force of law, have been increasingly reflected by courts in settlements.
"The other key step is really to take appropriate advice. There is a need to decide on such areas as asset values, unravelling complex business situations and trusts and pension splitting."
He cautioned couples looking to split: "You have to treat the divorce like a business negotiation and most of all you have to avoid using it to get back at your other half.
"I have advised on many cases involving heavyweight corporate dealmakers who are used to negotiating, but divorce is one deal you cannot walk away from. My advice is to stay as cool and detached as you can - this way you will achieve the best possible settlement at a reasonable cost."