The former wife of a millionaire racehorse surgeon has been told to find a job because she is not entitled to receive financial support from her ex-husband for the rest of her life.
Mother-of-two Tracey Wright was married to vet Ian Wright for 11 years, but Ms Wright appealed against the original decision made by a family court judge, which would have seen her having to seek paid employment like many other divorced women with children in the UK.
In a ground-breaking ruling, Lord Justice Pitchford rejected Ms Wright’s challenge to the decision in the Court of Appeal, making it clear that divorcees with children older than seven should work for a living, without depending on the luxury of being able to stay at home for the rest of their lives.
Previously a legal secretary and riding instructor, Ms Wright chose not to resume a professional career when she and her husband separated in 2006 and later divorced in 2008.
Money from the sale of the couple’s £1.3m marital home was split between each of them, with Ms Wright being able to purchase a £450,000 mortgage-free house in Newmarket.
Mr Wright was originally ordered to pay his former wife and the couple’s children £75,000 each year in school fees and maintenance.
However, he sought a payment reduction at the High Court, claiming that it was unfair for him to be expected to support his ex-wife for the rest of her life, even after he has retired, while she failed to seek paid employment or make a financial contribution.
Judge Lynn Roberts, who made the original decision at the family court, said: “I do not think the children will suffer if Mrs Wright has to work, and indeed a working mother at this stage of their lives may well provide them with a good role model.
“It is possible to find work that fits in with childcare responsibilities.
“I reject her other reasons relating to responsibilities for animals, or trees, or housekeeping.”
Lord Justice Pitchford confirmed at the Court of Appeal that Ms Wright should not rely on Mr Wright’s spousal maintenance and added that: “There is a general expectation that, once children are in year two, mothers can begin part-time work and make a financial contribution”.
The fact that the decision has been made following an appeal is particularly important, and legal experts have highlighted that the ruling will have an impact on future divorce cases where large earnings are involved.