The end of “Meal Ticket” divorce settlements

In 2012 Kim Waggott was awarded £9.76 Million and £175,000 per year maintenance for life. However she applied to increase the amount, and her former husband challenged the original award.

The result was the court not only refused to increase the maintenance, but provided for it to end in March 2021. Therefore she lost her lifetime maintenance (and incurred a very large legal bill).

Whilst press coverage has been rather lurid, in fact this should not have been a surprise: whilst lifetime spousal maintenance orders used to be normal, for some years the approach of the Courts has been to limit maintenance to a fixed period. In the absence of children under 18,  a five year term is usually the maximum, though sometimes the receiving party can apply to extend that deadline if they can justify it. However, if the original order includes a specific legal provision, it cannot be extended at all.

Note that this is very different from child maintenance, which follows very different rules.

Each case is decided on its own facts, and of course this is a fairly extreme case. However, the more “normal” cases do not tend to be reported, let alone in the mainstream press.

If you have any concerns about maintenance orders, or other divorce or separation issues, please contact our family department on 01730 268211 (Petersfield, Hampshire) or 01730 816711 (Midhurst, West Sussex) and for more information on how we can help, please see our website.