Opinion & Debate

Published on February 25th, 2015 | by Kelly Rose Bradford


Spousal maintenance? How about get off your backside and get a job?

WTF is spousal maintenance all about? Why the hell should an ex husband (or wife) be expected to fund their former partner’s lifestyle after divorce?

I’m not talking about financial arrangements for their children, but ongoing ‘maintenance’ payments, outside of the divorce settlement, to allow a woman (or man) to continue to live the life to which she/he had become accustomed during the marriage.

You know, the type of life the rest of us fund by getting off our backsides and going out to work.

And I’m not alone in thinking this. In the Court of Appeal this week, Lord Justice Pitchford quite rightly said that divorcees with children aged over seven should be working for a living.

The case in question was mother-of-two and former riding teacher Tracey Wright, 51, who, on her separation from vet Ian Malcolm Wright in 2008 after 11 years of marriage, chose to be a stay-at-home mum.

The divorce settlement had already seen their £1.3 million, seven-bedroom home sold, with the proceeds split between the two of them. According to the Telegraph, Tracey Wright left the marriage with ‘a £450,000 mortgage-free house’ and ‘stabling for her horse and her daughters’ ponies.’

Ongoing arrangements had her former husband contributing £75,000-a-year in maintenance and school fees for her and their children, who are 16 and 10.

Yes, £75,000 a year for the children and her.


Mr Wright obviously wondered this too, and went to the High Court last year in a bid to cut the payments, saying it was not fair that he should be supporting his ex-wife indefinitely while she made “no effort whatsoever to seek work”.

Too bloody right it wasn’t fair.

Ultimately, Tracey Wright was told by the court to “just get on with it” and to go out to work like “vast numbers of other women with children”.

Which is exactly how it should be. Where is the pride in being bankrolled by your ex husband? What sort of example are you setting your children in having your (not their) lifestyle funded by someone you are no longer in a relationship with?

Of course some will say that an ex wife has often helped build her husband’s career by keeping the house and raising the children while he goes out to work. That she should be compensated for that if the marriage ends. I don’t buy that at all and can’t help but think these kind of demands are more about bitterness, resentment and long term punishment of former partners than actual need.

For what other reason would anyone with an ounce of dignity be taking – or wanting – their ex’s money?

What women should be doing in these situations (and by that I do not mean instances where the children are still pre-schoolers, or the woman really cannot work) is proving their worth, not syphoning off his.

And that means getting a job, surviving, excelling, and showing him (and everyone else) that you do not need handouts from anyone.

About the Author

Kelly Rose Bradford

is a London-based journalist and broadcaster, writing for the Daily Mail, the Daily Express, the Sunday Telegraph, and a host of women's magazines. Her robust opinions and feisty debating skills make her in demand as a social commentator, regularly guesting on ITV's This Morning programme, and across many radio stations, including 5 Live and BBC Radio London.

One Response to Spousal maintenance? How about get off your backside and get a job?

  1. john says:

    As a divorced male I think there is some logic to spousal support. If two new parents decide the ‘traditional’ roles suit everyone best then the stay at home parent is restricted in what work they can do. The benefits are that children get taken/picked up by their parents every day and there could be less stress at the home compared to two full time working parents. Obviously this requires a significant income.
    If divorce occurs while children are young then some of the logic still applies.
    What is unfair is disposal of assets. Hopefully most reasonable people feel that what is yours before marriage stays. Once married, it is a unison and all you do together is equal. Upon separation to the split of say 75/25 or 80/20 is a practical need due to housing. But the amount over 50% awarded to the resident parent should return (with growth) back to the non resident.
    I left my job to work for myself and as such have a reduced income so informed my ex wife ( L Penny above) that would meet first 6 months spousal but may have to review payments due to reduced income.
    In addition my ex wife decided not to work at all for 18 months and’ with maintenance, income support etc took home £21K before spousal which is more than her ‘salary (was unemployed at time) when had children 7 years ago. As recently posted ‘shall I write today or sit in my hammock’. Has no mortgage and a 3 bed house She feels another £6K PA is fair. She is a good Mum and that’s important.
    Whilst married she had a cleaner, laundry service, car, health club membership to support her while I admittedly worked long hours. As well as raising money for charity by organising golf events and climbing Kilimanjaro. She then had an affair and I lost time with my children and 75% of wealth.
    Some ex’s can find it hard to loose lifestyle but that has to be accepted. I see children every other weekend, every other Monday and do 3-4 school runs a week and provide financially.
    So I feel provide what is needed if resident parents want more, then go earn more. The polish born cleaner used to employ has secured a term time job locally so it can be done.

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