End of a ‘meal ticket for life’ after Supreme Court rules in Mills v Mills

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

The court unanimously allowed the appeal of the husband in Mills v Mills, concluding that the judge in the first instance had been entitled to decline to vary an order for periodical payments that required the husband to pay all of the wife’s rental costs.

The Court of Appeal had backed the wife’s request to increase periodical payments.

It was heard that following their divorce in 2002, after a 15-year marriage, she had received £230,000 in settlement of her capital claims against him, and it was agreed that the husband would make annual periodical payments of £13,200.

But by April 2015, following a series of property purchases and later the wife beginning to rent accommodation, she had accumulated 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.

Lord Wilson who gave the lead judgment in the Supreme Court, said the Court of Appeal had erred in saying the judge at first instance had given no reason for declining to increase the payments order.

The judge’s order to retain existing periodical payments was restored with Mr Mills to resort back to the original £13,200 periodic payments.