A wealthy family seems to be "tearing itself apart" in a legal battle which has already cost more than £700,000, a High Court judge has said .
Mr Justice Holman said the "awful conflict" - involving a couple divorcing after a 43-year marriage - filled him with "nothing but despair".
The judge said the case has not yet reached the point where a preliminary issue has been decided.
Mr Justice Holman said the couple had four adult children and the family had a business and property worth around £50 million.
There appeared to be "intense conflict" over "certain dispositions" made by the husband which appeared to favour one child and be to the "disadvantage of the wife".
"I (have) a feeling of the utmost despair that this family could have spent three quarters of a million pounds just to get to this stage," said the judge.
"They are likely to spend some hundreds of thousands of pounds in preparation for, and at the hearing of, the preliminary issue, and even that is only the preliminary issue."
He added: "This family appears to be tearing itself apart, and it fills the sympathetic but detached observer such as myself with nothing but despair."
Mr Justice Holman made his comments in a written ruling on a legal point in the case following a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.
The judge suggested that parties should make a "sustained attempt" to try to find a resolution.