Maintenance In Divorce ‘Not A Meal Ticket For Life’

Appeal Judge Rejects Challenge Regarding Reduction In Financial Support

24.02.2015

A family law expert has described a recent court decision as a clear sign that judges are making it clear that spousal maintenance following a divorce is “no longer a meal ticket for life”.

The Court of Appeal has rejected the challenge of Tracey Wright, the ex-wife of millionaire racehorse surgeon Ian Wright, who was looking to challenge a decision which would see her future maintenance from her former husband significantly reduced.

She was receiving around £33,000 a year as a personal allowance as part of the divorce agreement in 2008, but last year it was ruled that there was no good reason for her not to seek work following the split.

Lord Justice Pitchford of the Court of Appeal has now told her to “just get on with it” and seek a job like a number of other women with children.

Following the ruling, Elizabeth Hicks, a Partner and family law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s London office, said the decision highlights how the way such matters is handled is shifting.

Expert Opinion
This recent decision seems to illustrate the sea change in the way the Family Court are now looking at spousal maintenance. It is the latest in the line of authorities where single Judges have made it plain that spousal maintenance is no longer a meal ticket for life.

"The fact that it is a decision on Appeal gives it greater weight. It is important to remember that the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 – which is the statute which governs how a family’s assets and income are divided on a divorce – makes it plain that the Court must look at bringing a married couples’ financial claims against each other to an end at the earliest possible opportunity.

"This decision shows that the courts are now making this more of a reality."
Elizabeth Hicks, Partner