Supreme Court refuses to increase payments to a divorcee who mismanaged her finances following the settlement

The Supreme Court has ruled that a divorced husband should not have to increase payments to his ex-wife, after she mismanaged her finances following their split.

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal of the husband in Mills v Mills, backing the judge at first instance, who had declined to increase an order for periodical payments to the ex-wife, which she asked for, to meet a shortfall between her current needs and the existing level of periodical payments.

Following the couples divorce in 2002, after a 15-year marriage, the wife was awarded £230,000 in settlement of her capital claims and it was agreed that the husband would make annual periodical payments of £13,200.

By April 2015, following a series of disastrous property purchases and later the wife beginning to rent accommodation, she had debts of around £42,000 and there was a £4,092 shortfall per year between her needs and the existing level of the periodical payments.

The Supreme Court overruled the Court of Appeal, and the first instance judge’s order to retain periodical payments at the existing level was restored.

Steve Johnston, Head of family Law at Judge  & Priestley commented; “The Supreme Court has disappointingly not taken the opportunity to give any significant new guidance on the term of maintenance orders. The ruling does, however, continue the trend of recent judicial thinking that the  spouse in whose favour a maintenance order is made should take greater responsibility for their finances after the settlement and they should not expect to have payments reviewed if, as in this instance, they mismanage a capital settlement previously agreed as suitable to meet their needs”.

For more information contact the family Law team on 020 8290 7341 or contact us here.

to chat