Chef Marco Pierre White and his estranged wife Matilde are embroiled in a High Court row over money.
Mrs White wants a judge to consider jailing Mr White for not paying alimony as ordered.
Mr White says he cannot afford to pay what he has been ordered to and wants a review.
A judge analysed their dispute at a public hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London on Tuesday.
Mr Justice Holman said their arguments would be considered at further hearings next year.
He said he hoped they would be able to settle their differences out of court.
Both Mr White and Mrs White were at the hearing.
The pair, who are both in their fifties, married in 2000 and separated more than a decade ago.
Mr Justice Holman was told that they had been involved in litigation between 2008 and 2011 – and had run up lawyers’ bills in the region of £2 million.
He said their fight had now started “all over again”.
The judge said Mr White, 58, had now petitioned for divorce and Mrs White had made a money claim.
No decision had yet been made on how much she should walk away with.
But a less senior judge had ordered Mr White to make alimony payments pending final decisions.
Mr Justice Holman said a judge would first have to consider whether the size of alimony payments Mr White had been told to pay should be varied because he did not have enough money.
A judge would then separately have to consider Mrs White’s application to consider having Mr White committed to prison for not paying what he had been ordered to pay.
He said those hearings would probably be staged in spring and early summer, if the pair could not agree a settlement.
Mr Justice Holman said Mr White would have to provide details of his finances to Mrs White.
Barrister Philip Perrins, who represented Mrs White, said his client was in a “desperate” situation.
He said she was bankrupt, in rented accommodation and facing being made homeless.
“She is in an invidious position,” Mr Perrins told the judge.
“She needs sufficient funds to live, to house herself and to be represented.”
He said Mr White owed Mrs White alimony and she wanted a judge to consider jailing him in the hope of forcing him to pay.
Mr Perrins said Mr White had a “high income”.
“It’s simply obvious,” said Mr Perrins.
“The question is what he does with it and how he spends it.”
He said Mr White was making alimony payments but not at the level he had been ordered to.
Barrister Oliver Wise, who represented Mr White, said his client wanted the amounts of alimony he had been ordered to pay changed.
Mr Wise said Mr White could not afford to pay more than he was currently paying.