What the Mills v Mills case tells us about spousal maintenance: The importance of a financial order18 Jul 2018
The Supreme Court has confirmed that the Court of Appeal was wrong to take into account a former wife’s housing costs when increasing her spousal maintenance award on an appeal brought in 2014, despite provision having been made specifically for her housing costs as part of a capital award agreed in 2002.
The Court of Appeal had previously decided that Mrs Mills could no longer meet her basic needs from the maintenance award agreed in 2002 and consequently that Mr Mills’ payments to her should increase. Mr Mills appealed on the basis that his former wife had lost the capital she had been awarded in 2002, intended to meet her housing needs, due to her own financial mismanagement. It was wrong, he said, for the court to take her current income needs into account whilst disregarding the capital award she had already received.
The decision emphasises the need for finality when a financial order is made on divorce. Although the ongoing provision of spousal maintenance allows either party to apply for a variation for as long as maintenance is payable, there must be a good reason why the court should consider their request. In this instance, Mrs Mills’ case did not cross the appropriate threshold.
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