A Meal Ticket for Life? Think Again…

Posted on July 18, 2018

Mills v Mills

Today, the Supreme Court in Mills v Mills [2018] UKSC 38 has ruled in favour of a divorced husband who argued he should not have to increase his monthly contribution to his former wife, on account of her mismanaging her post-divorce finances.

Background to the case:

Following the parties divorce in 2002, they agreed a financial settlement by consent and properly implemented this.  Included in the agreement were periodical payments from Mr Mills to Mrs Mills of nearly £2,000 per month.

In 2014, Mr Mills sought to discharge the monthly payments or at least reduce them.  He saw no reason why Mrs Mills could not now increase her own earning capacity given the time that had past and that he should not, in essence, be supplementing her financial mismanagement. In response, Mrs Mills sought an increase in the payments arguing she was unable to meet her ‘basic needs’ at the current amount. At the first hearing, the judge ruled that the order should continue without any variation. The Court of Appeal allowed the wife’s appeal.  Today, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of the ex-husband and ruled that he should not be financially responsible for the ex-wife’s bad management of her finances.

Impact of the case:

Whilst the Supreme Court has stressed that this case does not provide a rule, rather guidance on maintenance orders generally, it does give a somewhat significant ‘nod of approval’ to the growing trend in this area of ex-spouses being encouraged to ‘stand on their own two feet’ and strive towards eventual independence upon divorce.

Whilst every case will turn on its own facts, there are many factors to consider when proposing / having imposed on you a spousal maintenance order. Having said this, ultimately, it appears that the idea of an ex-spouse having a ‘meal ticket for life’ is no longer so readily accepted.

If you would like advice in relation to divorce and financial matters, please contact Hollie Symon or Farah Naz in our Family Law team.