A wife’s challenge to the appeal court’s decision to end periodical payments from her ex-husband has come to an end.
The Supreme Court confirmed this month it had refused permission to appeal in Waggott v Waggott because the application did not raise an arguable point of law. The decision means family lawyers will have to wait for further clarification on the issue of maintenance following a divorce.
The parties were married in 2000 and had a child four years later, but were separated in 2012. As of 2001, former accountant Kim Waggott had not worked, while her husband William continued a successful career which gave him an annual salary of £3m by 2014.
They agreed to divide their £16m capital assets equally but disagreed about the wife’s entitlement to his future income. When a judge ordered the husband to make periodical payments to cover the balance remaining from her capital payments, both parties challenged the decision at the Court of Appeal.
There, judges dismissed the wife’s appeal in April and allowed the husband’s cross-appeal, ruling that her entitlement to periodical payments would now cease on 1 March, 2021.
The case made headlines in the national media as commentators debated whether the days of the so-called ‘meal ticket for life’ were numbered.
The Supreme Court said one issue at stake was whether the earning capacity of a spouse should be treated as a matrimonial asset which the other spouse should share in the future. The other issue was whether it was fair to expect a homemaker spouse to use their capital award to meet their income needs when the other spouse could rely on their earned income and therefore leave their capital intact.
Charlotte Bradley, partner and head of family at London firm Kingsley Napley, said in April the Court of Appeal ruling would be used by family lawyers around the country as a tool to obtain clean breaks for clients who had the biggest earning capacity.
Bradley added: ‘Waggott will provide further armoury for husbands or the main breadwinner to achieve a clean break straightaway, but the case will not stop arguments on this thorny issue until there is further clarity from the courts on maintenance and reform of divorce laws generally.’