|E&W Court of Appeal Rules that Spousal Maintenance should Cease at husband’s retirement|
A woman has lost her attempt to have her GBP33,200 annual maintenance award extended indefinitely into her ex-husband's retirement.
Ian Wright and Tracey Wright separated in 2008 after 11 years of marriage. The subsequent financial remedy order gave Mrs. Wright a mortgage-free house with stabling for horses, plus GBP33,200 annual maintenance for herself, and a further GBP41,800 a year for the couple's two children.
Mr. Wright is a successful veterinary surgeon with a substantial income, but is now 60 and approaching retirement. Last year he petitioned the family courts to reduce the annual maintenance payable to his wife. Roberts J agreed and made an order that the personal maintenance payments should be wound down over the next five years. There was, she said, no good reason why Mrs. Wright should not seek work.
Mrs. Wright contested this ruling in the England and Wales Court of Appeal (EWCA), claiming that the end of her spousal award would bring a plummeting standard of living for the children.
However the EWCA has now given judgment (as yet unpublished) in Ian Wright's favour. Lord Justice commented that it was ‘imperative’ that the wife go out to work and support herself, now that her children have passed Year Two at school (i.e. aged over seven).
‘The order was never intended to provide the wife with an income for life’, he said. ‘The time has come to recognise that, at the time of his retirement, the husband should not be paying spousal maintenance.’
The Court of Appeal’s ruling is binding on lower courts, which are now expected to recognise that divorced persons can no longer expect their spousal maintenance to last forever, or even until the children reach adulthood.
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Published on our website on Feb.28, 2015