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Ex-wife of millionaire travel boss loses divorce deal which gave her £175k a year for life.

  Kim Waggott outside London's Appeal Court
A millionaire boss at travel firm TUI has overturned a divorce ruling which ordered him to pay his ex-wife £175k a year - for life - on top of a £10m divorce settlement.

Accountant William Waggott, 54, was ordered to give his ex-wife Kim Waggott £9.76m in cash and assets - allowing her to buy a £2m home in Cheshire and a holiday pad in Mallorca - after they split in 2012.


On top of that, Mr Waggott, the finance director of TUI, was 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 work.

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.

Mrs Waggott had argued that the payments were not generous enough - and had asked for her payments to be upped by £23,000 a year.

The couple met in 1990 while working at the same accountancy firm and wed in 2000, living in Withington, south Manchester, Lymm, Cheshire, and a multi-million pound property in Buckinghamshire during their married life.

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.

He said that Mrs Waggott will not suffer ‘undue hardship’ - and can get a job if she needs more money.

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 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, who stopped work in 2002, had claimed the maintenance package was not generous enough. Her barrister, James Turner QC, had argued not only that the yearly payments should be increased, but that she was entitled to over a third of his future bonuses.

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,” the judge added, before going on to allow Mr Waggott’s appeal and order that the maintenance payments stop in March 2021.

Throwing out the wife’s bid for more cash, the judge added: “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.

The Court of Appeal’s landmark decision in the Waggott big money divorce case means that wealthy bread-winners will not have to share their post-divorce earnings with their poorer ex-spouses.

Kim Waggott’s barrister, James Turner QC, argued her ex-husband’s stellar earning capacity had been built up during the marriage and represented a matrimonial asset to which the equal sharing principle applied.

He claimed that, on top of her £9.76 million payout, she should get a 35% share of Mr Waggott’s work bonuses for five years after the divorce and that her £175,000 annual maintenance should be increased.

William Waggott outside London's Appeal Court
But, in a decision that is bound to affect many other divorce cases, Lord Justice Moylan ruled that Mr Waggott’s future earning capacity is not capable of being a matrimonial asset and he is not obliged to share it.

The judge said that, if Mrs Waggott’s arguments were right, her ex-husband’s obligation to pay her part of his earned income would continue throughout his working life, regardless of her financial needs.

Upholding her appeal would create a lack of clarity in the law and undermine the fundamental ability of family judges to implement clean break divorces, he added.

The couple’s overall assets were valued at £16.4 million when they divorced. Mrs Waggott was awarded capital resources of £8.4 million compared to her ex-husband’s £7.8 million.

On top of that she received an additional sum of just under £1.4 million, representing a share of deferred remuneration that the husband had received post separation, bringing her total award to £9.76 million, not including the maintenance of £175,000-a-year throughout their joint lives. However, as a result of the court’s decision, those maintenance payments will end in four years time.
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