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Maintenance in Divorce no longer allowing for ladies of leisure

A recent court decision has given a clear sign that judges are now stating that spousal maintenance is no longer there to keep once wealthy housewives in the style to which they have become accustomed.

The Court of Appeal rejected the challenge of Tracey Wright, ex-wife of millionaire racehorse surgeon Ian Wright, who sought to overturn a decision that would see her maintenance from him substantially reduced.

She was receiving £33,000 year personal allowance, as part of the divorce agreement in 2008, and living with their 10-year-old daughter in a luxurious home, but last year it was ruled that there was no good reason for her not to find employment.

The Judge in the Court of Appeal, 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.

At Dale and Newbery, we believe this outcome highlights how the tide is turning and is the latest in a line of authorities where single Judges have made it clear that maintenance won’t allow for women who just want to stay at home being funded by their ex-husbands, sometimes deemed by the media as ‘ladies of leisure.’

Also the fact that this is a Court of Appeal decision gives it greater significance.

The Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 sets out how assets/income are to be divided on divorce, stressing that the court must look at bringing married couples financial claims against each other to an end at the earliest opportunity.

The Judge also stated that divorcees with children over seven years old should work for a living.

This ruling will have a huge impact on big money cases and the decision perhaps reflects the changes in society, and the greater equality that exists in relationships in respect of family and working lives.

In most cases, both husband and wives contribute jointly financially and to running the household. Often the wife returns to work after some time raising the children and now the expectation that a wife after divorce can remain a stay at home mother now seems unrealistic following this decision.