A recent Family court ruling has been deemed as a landmark case as the Judge ruled that a woman has no right to be “supported for life” by her former husband.
This ruling will no doubt have an effect on how ‘big-money’ divorce cases will be resolved in the future, with the Lord Justice Pitchford told mother-of-two Tracey Wright, 51, that divorcees with children aged seven or over should seek employment.
Former riding instructor and legal secretary Mrs Wright lives with the couple’s youngest daughter and chose not to work after her divorce to vet Ian Wright in 2008 after 11 years of marriage. She walked away with a £450,000 mortgage-free home in Cambridge. Her former husband was ordered to pay her and their children £75,000 a year in maintenance and school fees. £33,200 of this was Mrs Wright’s ‘personal upkeep’.
However in 2014, Mr Wright went to the High Court in attempt to reduce these bills, saying it was unfair that he is expected to support his wife even after retirement and especially since his ex-wife has made “no effort whatsoever to seek work”.
An order had been made initially for the £33,200 per year maintenance to be phased out and reduced in the years leading up to the ex-husbands retirement. Mrs Wright appealed that decision and was unsuccessful. The wife was subsequently told by the Judge that it was imperative that she find a job just as vast numbers of others women with children have to do.
The case has attracted a lot of attention but in some ways it shouldn’t because the Court already has a duty to consider whether it is possible to achieve a clean break on financial issues between a divorcing couple and at what point their responsibility towards each other should come to an end.
The Court in this case has underlined a very clear view that a divorced wife (or of course a husband) should be expected to contribute financially and cannot expect the support indefinitely many years after the marriage.
The message seems to be very clear that even when we are in millionaire territory, a wife who clearly has some earning capacity will be expected to use that to the maximum and cannot expect to be in receipt of financial support indefinitely.