‘Meal ticket for life’ divorce ruling signifies a change in how courts regard maintenance payments

May 14, 2018
Family law Mansfield Southwell

A recent high-profile divorce ruling scrapped future maintenance payments by an ex-husband to his ex-wife.

In the case of Waggott v Waggott, the wife had returned to court to ask for an increase in annual payments already agreed during their divorce.

After they divorced and the court made financial orders in 2014, the wife had been awarded a settlement of £9.76m plus annual payments of £175,000 for life. She asked the court to approve an increase in annual payments, arguing that she was entitled to a larger share of her ex-husband’s income post-separation because his earning capacity was a matrimonial asset in which she was entitled to share. As a result of this, she wanted a share of 35% of his net bonuses in respect of years up to and including 2019 (payable in 2022) and maintenance of £190,000 per annum for their joint lives.

At the appeal court, the judge decided that the sharing principle did not apply to the husband’s post-separation earnings and rejected her request. Another consequence of the wife’s appeal was that it led the judge to reconsider the original financial order. His conclusion was that the wife could make up her shortfall in payments by investing a portion of her lump sum settlement to meet her income needs.

Because it was proven that the wife would be able to make up the shortfall without undue financial hardship, and could obtain employment from 2019, the judge also ruled that the annual maintenance payments from her ex-husband should stop from 2021 and that the wife could not under any circumstances apply for the maintenance to be extended beyond that date.

Helen Shaw, an experienced family law solicitor specialising in high-net worth separations and divorces at Tallents Solicitors in Mansfield commented:

It’s important to understand that this judgment on appeal highlights that the courts are now taking a less generous approach to spousal maintenance than before in terms of amount and duration.

The courts are keen to encourage a clean break between divorcing parties so that they can put the relationship behind them and continue anew. This new ruling clearly supports this approach.

Helen finishes:

I can help you consider any financial aspects of the divorce process and help sort out issues regarding your home, finances and your children in a way that will consider the needs of you all. Just give me a call on 01623 666700 to set up an appointment.

Helen also attends the weekly free family law clinic held every Tuesday evening from 5pm at Tallents Solicitors on 2 Westgate in Southwell. Initial meetings do not require an appointment.

‘Meal ticket for life’ divorce a clean break divorce an increase in annual payments financial orders high-net worth divorces high-net worth separations Waggott v Waggott
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