Supreme Court rules the end of a ‘meal ticket for life’

In a recent case “ Mills v Mills” the Supreme Court have overturned a High Court decision and ruled that a husband should not be forced to pay increased maintenance payments to his ex-wife because she has failed to manage her finances properly.

When Mr. and Mrs. Mills divorced in 2002, Mrs. Mills received a lump sum payment of £230,000 to purchase a new home for herself and their son. She also received ongoing maintenance payments of £1,100 per month to meet her basic needs.

Following this, Mrs. Mills made a series of poor investment choices and incurred debts of £42,000. She therefore applied to the court for an increase in her maintenance payments because they no longer met her basic needs and Mr. Mills cross-applied to end or reduce the payments because Mrs. Mills had:

     (i)   lost the capital she had been awarded in 2002 through gross financial mismanagement and,

     (ii)  she was in a position to work more in order to increase her earnings.

The judge at the first instance held that the order should continue without any variation.  Mrs. Mills applied to the Court of Appeal for an upward variation which allowed her appeal.

Mr. Mills then applied to the Supreme Court who overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal, although the payments of £1,100 must continue.

The decision follows recent judicial thinking that divorce should not constitute a “meal ticket for life”, and judges expect parties to be judicious in the way they manage their financial affairs and not expect their former spouse to bail them out if one gets into financial difficulties through their own bad judgment.

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