The courts have again favoured the clean break over a ‘meal ticket for life’, this time in the case of Kim Waggott and her millionaire ex-husband TUI finance boss William Waggott.
Kim Waggott had been awarded a hefty settlement of £9.7m with £175,000 in annual maintenance payments for the rest of her life when she split from husband William in 2012.
But, not satisfied with the deal, she went back to court to ask for an additional £23,000 a year.
The move backfired at London’s Appeal Court when Lord Justice Moylan ruled that the maintenance payments should stop altogether in three years’ time saying that Mrs Waggott, the former finance controller of UCI cinemas, would not suffer “undue hardship” and could get a job if she needed more money.
The judge acknowledged that long-term maintenance could, in some circumstances, be a fair outcome in a divorce but that in this case it was clear that Mrs Waggott would be able to adjust to the termination of maintenance without undue hardship.
Waggott v Waggott is sure to have repercussions for other divorces, due to the court’s clear rejection of the argument that earning capacity built up during a marriage is a matrimonial asset to which the sharing principle should apply.
Increased emphasis certainly seems to now be placed on achieving a clean break and encouraging financial independence.
Payments of spousal maintenance are often one of the most contentious and acrimonious areas when negotiating a divorce settlement, so it is advisable to seek legal advice.