Neil Ruddock told to pay ex-wife nearly £80,000 by family court judge

Former footballer Neil Ruddock has been told to hand nearly £80,000 to his ex-wife after a family court judge concluded that he not paid maintenance in breach of an order.

Mr Ruddock, 53, said he could not afford to pay maintenance owed to Sarah Ruddock, 51.

But Deputy District Judge Brenda Morris, who is based in the Central Family Court, made a ruling in favour of Mrs Ruddock on Friday after considering rival arguments at an online trial.

She concluded that Mr Ruddock, who has remarried, had not paid because he did not want to pay.

Neil Ruddock Court Case
A family court judge has told Ruddock to hand nearly £80,000 to his ex-wife (Sean Dempsey/PA)

The judge had overseen a private trial but allowed a journalist to attend.

She had earlier ruled that brief detail of the dispute could be revealed and on Friday said parts of her ruling could be reported.

Mr Ruddock, a central defender who won one England cap, played for clubs including Southampton, Tottenham, Liverpool and West Ham during a career spanning more than 12 years.

Since retiring from football, he has featured in a number of television programmes, including I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and Celebrity MasterChef.

Judge Morris heard that the Ruddocks had married in 1989, separated in 2005 and divorced in 2008.

In 2007, another judge told Mr Ruddock to pay Mrs Ruddock more than £900 a month maintenance – or “periodical payments”.

Mrs Ruddock said her ex-husband had only made a “few payments” since March 2014.

She said he could afford to pay but had not complied with the 2007 order.

Mrs Ruddock said she was owed nearly £80,000 and asked Judge Morris to “enforce arrears”.

Mr Ruddock said he could not afford to pay. He asked Judge Morris to “remit all arrears” and reduce monthly payments.

Judge Morris said Mrs Ruddock had shown that Mr Ruddock “had the ability” to pay maintenance as ordered and refused to remit the arrears.

She said the former footballer’s compliance with his obligations under the 2007 order had “quite frankly been abysmal”.

“I find that (Mrs Ruddock) has shown to the required standard that (Mr Ruddock) has, and has always had, the ability to pay the periodical payments order,” she said.

“The reason he has not paid, I find, is that he does not want to pay.”

She added: “It is not acceptable for a court order to be ignored.”

Judge Morris ordered Mr Ruddock to pay Mrs Ruddock a lump sum of £79,968, in instalments.

The 2007 order had been a “life maintenance” order.

Judge Morris varied that order and said it would now continue until Mr Ruddock was 65, or until either he or Mrs Ruddock died, or until Mrs Ruddock remarried.