A Lancashire family law expert is warning that rich divorcees may have to work for a living rather than expect an ‘income for life’ from their former spouse, following a major legal ruling.
The recent case saw an appeal court judge significantly reduce the maintenance payments of the ex-wife of a millionaire, warning that she has no right to expect a long-term income from her former husband.
Tracey Wright’s husband had been ordered to pay £75,000 a year in maintenance and school bills, but argued that the ruling had been unfair, expecting him to contribute while his ex-wife had no plans to work.
The judge in the case agreed and also suggested divorcees of children over seven could be expected to work for a living.
Helen Lucking, partner in the Family team at Napthens solicitors, said: “In any divorce there is a duty to all spouses to mitigate their losses, for instance to go out and earn a living or obtain income from another source.
“However, in cases involving high net worth individuals, judges have often been willing to let people carry on living their lives as they have become accustomed to. This obviously affects any financial settlement they receive from their former spouse, with some fairly large payouts awarded in recent years.
“This ruling is an indication that the courts are beginning to alter their views. In my experience the rise in more flexible working arrangements has had a large part to play in this.
“There are many ways for people to work – working from home, flexible hours – which would make it possible for a mother or father to look after children as well as earn a living.”