An ex-wife who was handed £9.76 million when she divorced her super-rich travel boss husband has had her maintenance stopped by top judges.
When they split in 2012, multimillionaire accountant, William Waggott, was ordered to give his ex-wife Kim Waggott the huge sum in cash and assets.
It allowed her to buy a £2m home in Cheshire and a holiday pad in Mallorca.
But on top of that, the 54-year-old finance director of Tui travel, was also told to pay her £175,000-a-year in personal maintenance for the rest of their lives.
Mr Waggott protested that the ruling, made by a divorce judge in 2014, was wrong and meant his wife – also an accountant – had “no financial incentive” to get back to
Now Lord Justice Moylan, at London’s Appeal Court, has ordered the maintenance payments to stop in three years’ time, granting the husband a “clean break” from his ex.
He said that Mrs Waggott will not suffer “undue hardship” – and can get a
Lord Justice Moylan, sitting with Sir James Munby and Mr Justice MacDonald, heard that the couple were married for 21 years and had one daughter before splitting in 2012.
They lived in a “very substantial” £4.3m property near Great Missenden, Bucks.
Post-split, Mrs Waggott, 49, former finance controller of UCI cinemas, used her £9.76m share of the “fruits” of the marriage to buy a £2m home near Chester and a Balearic holiday home.
Mr Waggott moved into a £1.9m farm near St Albans “with another lady,” the Court of Appeal was told by Mrs Waggott’s lawyers.
Nigel Dyer QC, for the husband, argued that the maintenance order should be ended in two years’ time and that Mrs Waggott should get back to work and start supporting herself.
“How long should an order based on sharing last for? When does the meter stop ticking?” he asked the judges.
“It is unfair to expect the husband to continue working long hours in demanding employment and not expect the wife to realise her earning potential as soon as is reasonably practicable,” he added.
Mrs Waggott however claimed the maintenance package was not generous enough and her barrister, James Turner QC, asked for her payments to be increased by £23,000 a year.
Allowing the husband’s appeal today, Lord Justice Moylan said: “The expression ‘meal ticket for life’ can be used as an unfair trope.
“I, of course, acknowledge that long-term maintenance can be required as part of a fair outcome (in a divorce.)
“But it is plain to me that the wife would be able to adjust without undue hardship to the termination of maintenance,” added the judge.
Lord Justice Moylan said that the wife would be able to make up the “shortfall” created by the loss of the maintenance payments by investing £950,000 – roughly 10% – of her massive payout and living off the interest.
Her lawyers had argued that she ought not to have to invest any part of her payout to create an income for herself.
But the judge said that, if the money produced by the investment was not enough to meet her financial needs, “the wife would be able to obtain employment” from next year.
“I appreciate that the husband may well have continued to generate a very substantial income and that his financial position will have been enhanced as a result,” he added, but went on to allow his appeal and order that the maintenance payments stop in March 2021.
Throwing out the wife’s bid for more cash, the judge added: “It will be clear from what I have said above that the wife’s appeal from the judge’s decision not to award her more of the husband’s post-separation income by application of the sharing principle fails.
“Any extension of the sharing principle to post separation earnings would fundamentally undermine the court’s ability to effect a clean break,” he said.
“I reject Mr Turner’s more extreme argument that the wife’s capital, apart from her housing needs, should be preserved and should not be used in any way to meet her income needs.
“This again would conflict with the clean break principle,” he concluded.
As well as losing her financial support from her ex, Mrs Waggott will also now face a massive legal costs bill, bound to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.