As has been widely reported in the press, the Court of Appeal has rejected the challenge of Tracey Wright, the ex-wife of racehorse surgeon Ian Wright. Mrs Wright sought to challenge a decision which would see her future maintenance from her former husband significantly reduced.
The Evening Standard reported that, following the couple’s separation in 2006, the couple’s £1.3 million family home was ordered to be sold and the proceeds divided. Mrs Wright was awarded a £450,000 mortgage-free house in Newmarket plus stabling for her horse and her two daughters’ ponies. Mr Wright, 59, was also ordered to pay her and the children £75,000 a year in maintenance and school fees. Of this, Mrs Wright received £33,200 a year as personal (spousal) maintenance.
Mr Wright sought to reduce the maintenance payments last year because he was concerned payments would be unaffordable after his retirement at age 65. Judge Lynne Roberts ordered that the personal maintenance payments should cease, subject to a tailing-off over a five-year period leading up to Mr Wright’s retirement. She said that there was no good reason for her not to seek work following the separation.
Lord Justice Pitchford, hearing Mrs Wright’s appeal against that order, said that divorcees with children aged over seven should work for a living and that she should “just get on with it” and seek a job like a number of other women with children.
There has been a statutory steer towards a financial clean break for a number of years but this recent case – particularly given its greater weight as a Court of Appeal decision – is indicative of what appears to be an increasing view of Judges that maintenance should no longer be seen as a meal ticket for life.