England: ex-wife told she has no right to an ‘income for life’ and to get a job

England: ex-wife told she has no right to an ‘income for life’ and to get a job

A judge in the Court of Appeal has told the former wife of a millionaire horse surgeon to find a job and that she has no right to expect “an income for life” at the expense of her ex-husband.

Lord Justice Pitchford’s (pictured) decision may affect how former partners of wealthy spouses are treated after the judge said divorcees who have children aged over seven should work.

He rejected the challenge of Tracey Wright, a mother-of-two, against the decision of a family court judge to reduce her future maintenance.

Ms Wright, 51, a former legal secretary and riding instructor, decided not to work after she separated from her husband after 11 years in 2008.

The couple’s seven-bedroom, £1.3 million, 16 acre Suffolk home was ordered to be sold, with the proceeds divided between the pair.

Ms Wright got a £450,000, mortgage-free house as well as stabling for her horse and her daughter’s ponies.

Meanwhile, her ex-husband went to the High Court last year, seeking a reduction in his bills after he was ordered to pay his ex-wife and their children £75,000 a year in school fees and maintenance.

The ex-husband argued it was unfair that he was expected to support Ms Wright indefinitely, even after he was retired while she made “no effort whatsoever to seek work.”

A judge told Ms Wright to find employment, like “vast numbers of other women with children”.

At the Court of Appeal Lord Justice Pitchford rejected Ms Wright’s challenge to that decision and said it is now “imperative that the wife go out to work and support herself”.

“The time had come to recognise that, at the time of his retirement, the husband should not be paying spousal maintenance.

“The wife had done nothing since 2008 to look for work, retrain or to prepare herself for work.”

He added: “There is a general expectation that, once children are in year two, mothers can begin part-time work and make a financial contribution.”

The court heard that while the former husband made the payments timeously, he was concerned he would not be able to continue to do so following his retirement.

Mr Pitchford explained that “the order was never intended to provide the wife with an income for life”.

He concluded: “The onus will henceforth be on her. This application is dismissed.”

The family court judge, Lynn Roberts, agreed last year that Ms Wright had no good reason for not doing any paid work in the six years since the pair divorced.

Judge Lynn Roberts said Ms Wright was “evasive on the subject of her own earning capacity”.

She added: “The world of work has innumerable possibilities these days … vast numbers of women with children just get on with it and Mrs Wright should have done as well.”

Mark Johnston, who represented Ms Wright, protested that there was an inherent restriction in her ability to work in the next five years because her daughter was a boarding pupil at a public school.

He warned that the order would result in a “a plummeting in the standard of living” for the child.

Share icon
Share this article: