‘Meal ticket’ Divorce Ruling

The Court of Appeal recently ruled that maintenance payments for the ex-wife of millionaire William Waggott should end in 3 years.

Mr Waggott the Finance Director for travel company TUI and Mrs Kim Waggot married in 2000 and seperated in 2012. When they started living together both parties were Accountants. After a move in 2001 to Manchester Mrs Waggott left her job and, save for a one-off period, did not work again.

When the couple divorced, Mr Waggott was initially ordered to pay his ex-wife £9.76 million plus £175,000 per year maintenance payments for life. Mr Waggott didn’t agree with the ruling and felt there was no incentive for Mrs Waggott to return to work as a qualified Accountant.

The case known as the ‘meal ticket for life’ took quite a turn when Kim Waggott tried to increase the initially awarded maintenance settlement of £175,000 to £190,000 per year for life but instead Lord Justice Moylan, in The Court of Appeal ordered the maintenance payments to stop in three years’ time therefore granting the husband a ‘clean break’ from his ex-wife over this period.

Mrs Waggott tried to argue that she should share in her ex-husbands future bonuses as his earning capacity was a matrimonial asset. However, Lord Justice Moylan ruled that Mr Waggott’s future earning capacity is not capable of being a matrimonial asset and he is not obliged to share it.

Inevitably the ruling made by the Court of Appeal has led to speculation that this will change how courts deal with maintenance cases going forward, with a more limited approach to both the amount and duration awarded for maintenance.

It will be interesting to see what weight this judgement has on future maintenance cases so watch this space!

NB This case did turn on its unique facts and as each individual case has its own facts then legal advice is critical to achieve the best possible outcome.
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