Blog: Yesterday, Before All My Money Was So Far Away ...

Paul McCartney wrote "Yesterday" on the back of an envelope in 1965. Remember the lyrics?

"Yesterday/ All my troubles seemed so far away/ Now it looks as though they're here to stay …"

How tragically prophetic … "Yesterday love was such an easy game to play/ Now I need a place to hide away/ Oh, I believe in yesterday."

Today McCartney needs a place to hide from all the newspaper headlines about his estranged wife Heather's divorce petition. In some recently-released documents, which may or may not reflect the contents of the real court papers, Heather Mills accuses Paul McCartney of drug-taking and violent behavior.

Get the full story: Watch "Nightline" tonight on ABC.

Among other things, it's alleged that earlier this year he cut Mills' arm with a broken wine glass. The papers also charge that while in Los Angeles back in 2002, grabbed her by the neck before pushing her over a coffee table. And in Rome, apparently, he pushed her into a bathtub during an argument.

The response from McCartney's lawyers is short and to the point: "Our client will be defending these allegations vigorously and appropriately." By "appropriately" they presumably mean in court rather than in the pages of Britain's smutty tabloids.

At stake in the court fight: Paul's estimated $1.5 billion fortune -- and, remember, there was no pre-nuptial agreement.

"I've gone on record as saying that was the biggest mistake of his life possibly," divorce lawyer Alan Kaufman told me. "It's said in the newspapers that he thought about it, it was something he was aware of and he decided love was more important." Kaufman heads the family law team at the prestigious London firm Finers Stephens Innocent.

Just four years ago when they married it was love's young dream. Okay, he was nearly 60 and she was 34. Now it's descended into full-scale tabloid nuclear war.

"[Heather] has got into the ring with a forceful opponent," suggested another top London divorce lawyer, Vanessa Lloyd-Platt. "And she will never win the public relations battle with Sir Paul. Never."

Why are they saying she is doomed to lose? Well, Paul gave the world "Let it Be." Her detractors, meanwhile, claim Heather's career highlight was a racy photo spread in a German magazine.

It appears most Brits would rather forget her extensive work for disability charities and the campaign to ban land mines. In the tabloids, a black and white case of good v. evil is an easier sell. As public relations guru Max Clifford explained to me, the British public "would rather read nasty things about Heather Mills McCartney than nice things." And he added, "If it's a choice between believing Paul McCartney or believing Heather Mills, there's no choice in terms of the British public."

Another thing working against Heather in the tabloid war: She's a woman.

"Men get away with almost murder," says Clifford. "The reason: It's the women. The women readers are women that always attack women."

When Princess Diana divorced Prince Charles back in the 1990's she was, of course, beyond reproach. Charles was criticized halfheartedly, but the real bile was reserved for his paramour (and now wife), Camilla Parker-Bowles. Cartoons of her appeared that in the papers gave her the face of a horse.

And when soccer superstar David Beckham allegedly had an affair, it was his wife, Victoria, who was pilloried for leaving him home alone and open to temptation.

"Women are incredibly critical of other women," says Clifford. "Given the opportunity of blaming women -- even when there's two people involved -- nine times out of 10, in my experience, they go for the woman."

And it's happening to Heather. In our unscientific survey of shoppers on London's Oxford Street not one person said they believe Heather's allegations of abuse and most people blamed her for break up of the marriage. But why do women seem to like criticizing women?

"Women take a very extreme view against other women who appear to be greedy," says Vanessa Lloyd-Platt. "It's sort of the antithesis of feminism. You know, we've fought for all our rights and there's someone coming along back to the old system of trying to grab money off a man."

So how much cash will Heather get? Well, apparently more than she would have got a few years ago. "In England, I don't know about elsewhere, there's undoubtedly been a move in the last ten years to give wives rightly or wrongly, far more of a share of the family assets in these big money cases," says Kaufman.

Recent judgments suggest Heather will claim a chunk of the money Paul has earned since they wed: his royalties, tour profits and album sales. In 2004 alone he made about $70 million.

"Although the money he's made since the marriage is potentially up for grabs," says Lloyd-Platt. "McCartney will say, 'I laid the groundwork for that before the marriage.'"

For example, Paul wrote "Love Me Do" before Heather was born.

And will the tabloid war have any impact? Apparently not.

"Any allegations will have absolutely no bearing on the cash or money she can get," says Platt. "It doesn't make any difference to the finances: who did what to whom."

That's why most people don't indulge in public mud slinging. A hundred years ago when you had to prove a spouse's misbehavior to win a divorce, the papers were full of the dirty dalliances of the rich and famous. One famous case involved an American musical hall star who accused her aristocratic husband of bedding a beautiful divorcee. "I have been made a tool and a fool," she told the court.

But the divorce laws changed way back in 1926. Divorce papers are now supposed to be private and bad behavior is no longer an issue.

No one knows why the divorce went from amicable to acrimonious in a heartbeat. The nature of the falling out is one of the few details that hasn't made it into the papers. But, as Kaufman suggests, one thing is for certain: "In the McCartney case, unfortunately, you've got two parties who have clearly fallen out of love in a very, very, big way."