Appeal finds husband has no obligation to provide lifelong financial support to ex-wife
The Court of Appeal has ruled that a former wife had no right to indefinite financial support from her husband and that she must work to support herself.
Mrs Wright married her husband, an equine surgeon, in 1997 and the couple separated nine years later, finalising their divorce in 2009. They had two children. Both children are privately educated and live with their mother. Mr Wight was ordered to pay maintenance of £54,000 made up of £33,200 for Mrs Wright and £20,800 for his children. He was also ordered to pay £19,444 in school fees and other educational expenses.
Mr Wright is 59 years old and wanted to retire early. Mrs Wright had not worked since the maintenance order and she had undertaken no training or education towards work. Mr Wright’s income had been steadily declining since the order and he applied to have the £33,200 payment reduced. The judge agreed that this maintenance would be reduced as Mr Wright’s retirement approaches. Mrs Wright appealed the decision.
In dismissing her appeal, the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of Judge Lynn Roberts that Mrs Wright must find work. The original order made it clear that Mrs Wright was expected to work and financially contribute alongside her child care duties. Mrs Wright was found to have made no effort to update her skill set and had never looked for a job.
Judge Roberts noted that when it comes to determining spousal maintenance the courts primary concern is deciding the reasonable needs of both parties. The application of S. 25(2)(a) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 requires the court to consider both parties’ earning capacity.
Prior to her 11 year marriage Mrs Wright worked as a secretary and riding instructor and her earning capacity was undiminished by her subsequent role as a homemaker. It was therefore not unreasonable to expect Mrs Wright to contribute financially.
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