Divorced mothers are told by Judges they must find work

The recent case in the Court of Appeal of Tracey Wright, the ex-wife of Newmarket racehorseurgeon Ian Wright, is the latest in a line of authorities where Judges have made it clear that if ausband is ordered to pay money from income to a wife for her personal support, it must not be meal ticket for life.

Mr and Mrs Wright separated in 2006 when their 1.3 million home was sold and the proceedsivided. Mrs Wright was awarded a 450,000 mortgage-free home for herself and her twoaughters, stables for their horses, 75,000 per annum to pay for school fees (the eldest was atoarding school) and other personal costs paid by her ex-husband, Mr Wright.

Mr Wright, aged 59, made an application to the Court in 2014 to have the 75,000 per annumeduced. He was worried that this level of maintenance payable from income would benaffordable when he retired at 65.

Mrs Wright, aged 51, seems not to have impressed the Court. Although a qualified ridingnstructor, the Judge said of her: rs Wright has made no effort whatsoever to seek work or topdate her skills am satisfied that she has worked on the basishat she would be supportedor life She argued that having to care for a 10 year old child (the youngest) prevented her fromeveloping any earning capacity in the next 5 years. Judge Lynne Roberts who made theecision to reduce maintenance in 2014 said that there was no good reason for Mrs Wright noto seek work following separation.

When hearing the appeal, Lord Justice Pitchford said it was imperative that Mrs Wrightinancially support herself: here is a general expectation that, once children are in Year Two,others can begin part-time work and make a financial contribution He further indicated thathe original order was never intended to provide Mrs Wright with an income for life and so heismissed her appeal against the reduction in maintenance.

The Court has an obligation set out in the main divorce legislation, the Matrimonial Causes Act973, to bring a couplesfinancial claims against each other to an end at the earliest possiblepportunity that is to effect a clean break. This doesn apply to child maintenance which wille payable throughout a child dependency, but to a wife, typically by a husband, for her ownersonal support and needs.

Issues relating to maintenance such as how much is to be paid and for how long are difficult tossess without detailed knowledge of this complex area of law and experience of such casesitigated through a Court. There is no standard formula to apply, but a checklist of factors toonsider set out in s25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.

EmsleysSolicitor and Head of Family Law, Gabbie Clasper, is nationally accredited byesolution as an expert in financial cases arising from divorce. For a free, initial consultation,all 0113 201 4900 or email family.law@emsleys.co.uk

Gabbie  Clasper

Written by

Gabbie Clasper

Head of Family Law

Gabbie has over 20 years’ experience in family law. She has expert knowledge in complex issues including financial aspects following divorce; pre and post-nuptial agreements; cases with an international element; and civil partnerships. Gabbie is regularly instructed by clients based across the country and abroad. She...

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