The ex wife of the multi-millionaire finance director of travel company TUI applied to the court to increase her maintenance of £175,000 a year by a further £23,000 in addition to her £9.76 million settlement at the time of the divorce in 2012.
However, her bid to increase her maintenance backfired, with the court ruling that rather than increasing the payments which the Cheshire divorcee was due to receive for the rest of her life, the payments should stop altogether after 3 years.
Meal Ticket for Life? Are the courts becoming less generous when it comes to maintenance?
Mr and Mrs Waggott were married for 21 years and had one daughter. Mr Waggott argued that it was unfair for him to “continue to work long hours in demanding employment and not expect the wife to realise her earning potential as soon as is reasonably practicable.”
This case is a significant indication that the law relating to spousal maintenance is less generous than before, but in this particular case Mrs Waggott had the ability to earn money herself, having previously been the finance controller of UCI cinemas, but had not returned to work. She also had the ability to invest some of her previous payout and live off the interest.
The court did make clear however that the sharing principle that applies to matrimonial assets does not apply to post separation earnings, and although long term maintenance can be required as a fair outcome in a divorce, Mrs Waggott’s circumstances were such that she would be able to “adjust without undue hardship to the termination of maintenance”