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Estranged couple fighting over holiday home in talks to resolve issue

An estranged Irish couple who have staged a "Titanic" divorce court battle over a 576 million euro (£500,000) holiday home in rural Ireland are negotiating, a judge has been told.

Margie Hanley, 56, and estranged husband Michael, 60 - who lived together in Wentworth, Surrey, in the UK - both want the house they jointly own in the village of Cornamona, County Galway.

Mr Justice Holman has analysed evidence at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London over the past two days.

He was scheduled to hear closing legal arguments from lawyers on Wednesday before making a decision.

But the judge postponed the start of the third day of the hearing after a barrister leading Mrs Hanley's legal team told him lawyers on both sides are "talking".

Stewart Leech QC said Mr and Mrs Hanley are engaged in "constructive negotiations" aimed at resolving issues.

Mr Justice Holman said on Tuesday the couple, who also have an apartment in Florida, would split cash and assets totalling between 11.5 million euro (£10 million) and 16.1 million euro (£14 million).

He said they had together run up lawyers bills of more than 922,000 euro (£800,000) on their ''Titanic battle'' - and he described the figure as ''phenomenal''.

Mr Hanley, who has retired after a career with multinational conglomerate GE, has told how their 33-year marriage hit the rocks after he discovered his wife had an affair.

Mrs Hanley, who denies adultery, said Mr Hanley had told her she could have the house in Cornamona and was ''punishing'' her.

The judge has heard the couple had lived in Europe, the Far East and the United States because Mr Hanley's work had taken him abroad.

They had built the house in Cornamona about 16 years ago and had gone there for holidays and at Christmas.

Mr Hanley had been living at the Cornamona house for the past few months and wanted it to be a retirement base.

Mrs Hanley, who still lives in Wentworth, says she should have the Cornamona house because generations of her family have lived in the village.

Mr Justice Holman heard there had been suggestions of Mrs Hanley living elsewhere in Cornamona.

He also raised the possibility of the pair, who have grown-up children, using the house at different times of the year.

But Mrs Hanley told him: ''We are getting divorced. The village isn't big enough for both of us.''

Mr Justice Holman had urged the Hanleys to try and reach agreement several times during the hearing.

He told them on Wednesday: "If at all possible this should be resolved by negotiation."

Mr Leech and Stephen Trowell QC, who is leading Mr Hanley's legal team, were due to summarise opposing arguments before the judge delivered a ruling.

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