The ex-wife of a millionaire horse surgeon has been told by an appeal Court judge that she should seek employment rather than rely on “an income for life” at the expense of her former husband.

It is anticipated that this decision could have wide reaching consequences for the ex-partners of the very wealthy. Lord Justice Pitchford said divorcees with children aged over seven should work for a living and not rely on their former partners contributions.

These comments were made in relation to the challenge by mother-of-two Tracey Wright, after a family court judge made the decision to dramatically reduce her future maintenance.

Tracey Wright was formerly a legal secretary and riding instructor and made the decision not to return to work and continue to be a full-time mother when she split with her husband in 2008 after 11 years and marriage.

The couple’s family home comprising seven bedrooms and worth £1.3 million was ordered to be sold and the proceeds split as part of the divorce proceedings. Wright came away from the proceedings with a £450,000 mortgage-free house along with stabling for her horse and her daughters’ ponies. Her ex-husband, was also ordered to pay her and the children £75,000-a-year in maintenance and school fees. Last year went to the high court to seek a reduction in his bills.

He claims it is unfair that should be obliged to keep providing for his wife indefinitely – even after he has retired. He claims further injustice as his ex-wife has made no effort to find work. The family court judge told Tracey wright that she must get a job like “vast numbers of other women with children” and rejected her challenge to the reduction of her maintenance payments. The judge further stated that it is now “imperative that the wife go out to work and support herself” highlighting that generally once children are of a certain age mothers are able to begin part time work and make a contribution to the household.

During the case, the court heard of how Tracey was given £75,000 per year for herself an their 10 year old daughter – £33,200 of which was for Tracey’s personal upkeep. Her ex husband has continued to make the payments but is concerned he will struggle to do so when he reaches retirement.

Judge Lynn Roberts, was in agreement last year that there was no good reason why Tracey Wright had not taken up any paid work in the six years that she had been divorced from her husband and criticised her during the case for being “evasive on the subject of her own earning capacity”. She said:

“The world of work has innumerable possibilities these day … vast numbers of women with children just get on with it and Mrs Wright should have done as well.”

Tracey Wright’s representatives claimed that caring for their 10-year old daughter (a boarding pupil at a public school) is a restriction on her ability to work or develop any kind of capacity for earning within the next five years.

This case marks a change in attitude of the court’s and should serve as a warning for spouses who expect not to work and to live off of their partner’s contributions indefinitely.

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For advice on divorce and a range of other Family Law issues contact Nighat Sultana at Sultan Lloyd Solicitors on 01212482850 or at [email protected]