Wife's Bid for CFO Ex's Future Bonuses May Make Divorces Pricier

  • Estranged wife wants share of bonus seven years after break-up
  • Lawyer says case could set a ‘very significant precedent’

The estranged wife of a U.K. finance director earning 1.8 million euros ($2.1 million) says she should get a share of his bonuses until 2019, seven years after their break-up. 

Kim Waggott says William Waggott, finance director of Tui Travel Plc, should pay her 35 percent of his bonuses between 2014 and 2019, regardless of whether she needs the money, according to his court filings for a London hearing on Wednesday. Lawyers say the case could set a “very significant precedent,” making wealthy people’s divorces more expensive.

Bankers and corporate executives are often at the center of some of the biggest U.K. divorces. London courts have gained a reputation as sympathetic place to play out high-stakes divorces, as judges generally order a 50-50 split of assets.

Michael Gouriet, a family law attorney at Withers LLP, said that if Kim Waggott won, she would be the first person to receive a share of their ex-partner’s future income without having to show that she needed the money.

Bigger Settlements

If that happened, “you’re exposing very-high earning people to much bigger divorce settlements,” said Gouriet, who isn’t involved in the case.

A lawyer for William Waggot declined to comment. Kim Waggot’s lawyers couldn’t be immediately reached to comment.

Kim Waggott says she supported her husband through the early stages of his career during a 21-year relationship that ended in 2012.

She “should be entitled to a share of the post-separation major fruits of that career,” her lawyers say in court documents.

But William Waggot argues that once the couple’s assets -- including a 4.3 million-pound home ($5.8 million) in Buckinghamshire, a multi-million pound holiday house in Mallorca and TUI stock -- have been divvied up and her needs have been met, there is “no justification” for her having an extra share of his future earnings.

William Waggott, 54, was paid 1.8 million euros in 2016, according to Bloomberg data. The pair have a 13-year-old daughter and, before they broke up, used their home in Mallorca, which they used “a very great deal,” according to her court filings.

At a previous hearing Kim Waggott, 49, was granted a deal that turned out to be worth 9.8 million pounds. It included half of the couple’s capital assets, an equal split of the pair’s pensions and a diminishing portion of the shares that he would be paid in the years after they separated.

Alex Carruthers, a partner at law firm Hughes Fowler Carruthers, said a previous Supreme Court case had “made it clear that maintenance could be awarded over and above that required to meet a party’s needs” if the “economically weaker spouse” could argue they had sacrificed a lucrative career to care for the children.

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