In a decision of the Court of Appeal this week sending a warning shot to ex-partners of wealthy spouses, Lord Justice Pitchford says divorcees with children aged seven and over should not be allowed to live on maintenance from their exes but should ‘go out and get a job’.
The top judge told the ex-wife of a millionaire racehorse surgeon to get a job and stop thinking she has the right to be “supported for life” at his expense.
Mother-of-two Tracey Wright, 51, a former riding instructor, split up with top horse surgeon Ian Malcolm Wright in 2008 and after 11 years of marriage, the couple’s £1.3 million seven-bedroom home set in 16 acres of Suffolk countryside was ordered to be sold and the proceeds split. Mrs Wright received a £450,000 mortgage-free house in Newmarket ,Suffolk and her ex was also ordered to pay her and the children £75,000-a-year in maintenance and school fees.
However, last year Mr Wright, 59, who is one of the country’s top vets, went to the High Court to seek a reduction as he considered that the decision was unfair.
He protested it was not fair that he be expected to keep supporting his ex-wife indefinitely, even after his retirement, whilst she made “no effort whatsoever to seek work”.
In a surprising decision which will affect mothers who have spent their married lives looking after the children she was told to “just get on with it” and get a job, like “vast numbers of other women with children.”
Historically, the courts have taken into account the inequality of the parties where one partner was the ‘breadwinner’ and the other a ‘stay at home’ parent but this decision could be an indication that in a climate of ‘equality’ the message is that there is no income for life following marital or relationship breakdown. Perhaps a signal that pre-nuptial agreements are to be favoured in the future?