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An appeal made by a wife ends her lifetime maintenance and her “meal ticket for life”.
Mrs Waggott had initially been awarded a settlement of over £9 million plus £175,000 per year in spousal maintenance for the rest of her life. She appealed, asking the Courts to vary the spousal maintenance order to provide her with an additional £23,000 per annum.
Mr Waggott cross-appealed as he disagreed with the term of the spousal maintenance order on the basis that he felt the Judge failed to give sufficient weight to the principle of a clean break.
The Court of Appeal rejected the wife’s argument and limited the spousal maintenance order to a 3 year period which would achieve a clean break between the parties at that time.
Lord Justice Moylan said that consideration must be given to whether it would be fair for the wife to deploy part of the substantial lump sum payment to meet her income needs.
He stated “I, of course, acknowledge that long-term maintenance can be required as part of a fair outcome and also that I understand why he suggests that the expression “meal ticket for life” can be used as an unfair trope”. However, in this case “it is plain to me that the wife would be able to adjust without undue hardship to the termination of maintenance.” He concluded that the wife would have to expend a proportion of her sharing award (the lump sum payment) on her income needs and provide a future income stream.
There appears to be a trend in case law in terms of the Courts being more focused on achieving a clean break where possible and therefore against open-ended spousal maintenance, known as “joint lives” spousal maintenance, unless of course there are exceptional circumstances.
The circumstances of every case are different and therefore it is important to seek legal advice in relation to your own case. At Ramsdens, we are accredited members of Resolution and expert family law specialists. If you wish to discuss your matrimonial matters please do not hesitate to contact one of our friendly family law team on 08000 147720 to make your appointment today.