A Surrey man has been told by the Court to Appeal to increase his monthly maintenance payments to his ex-wife.
Graham Mills, a surveyor and Maria Mills, a former estate agent married in 1988, separated in 2001 and divorced in 2002. At the time of the divorce they reached an agreement whereby Mrs Mills received almost all of the couple’s liquid capital of approximately £230,000 in order to buy a house to live in with their son and Mr Mills retained his business. Mr Mills also agreed to pay maintenance to Mrs Mills of £1,100 per month. The Court of Appeal has now ordered that the maintenance payments should increase to £1,441 per month because Mrs Mills is unable to meet her basic needs.
This case does appear to contradict the trend in recent cases where a transition to financial independence has been encouraged as soon as possible, with maintenance payments being limited to several years.
This case illustrates the continuing uncertainty around the law regarding orders for spousal maintenance and is a stark reminder that each case will be decided on its own facts.
A man has been told by the Court of Appeal to give his ex-wife more money after she spent all the lump sum she was awarded. Maria Mills, 51, received a £230,000 payout in 2002 but was in debt after "unwise" investments, the court heard. Graham Mills, 50, must now support her for life, increasing the £1,100 a month he pays to £1,1441. Mr Mills had argued he should not have to "pick up the tab" 15 years after the couple divorced. Lord Justice Longmore and Sir Ernest Ryder heard the couple married in 1988, had a now-grown-up son, separated in 2001 and divorced in 2002. Mr Mills, a surveyor, had agreed to give Mrs Mills, a former Notting Hill estate agent, almost all their "liquid capital" when they divorced, while he kept his business. His barrister, Philip Cayford, told the court Mr Mills, who now lives in Guildford, had since remarried and wanted to "move on" with his life. The court heard Mrs Mills had made some "unwise" property investments, moving from a house in Weybridge to a flat in Wimbledon, and then to an apartment in a luxury Victorian mansion block in Battersea. After selling the Battersea flat she was left "without any of the capital", the court was told, and was now living in a rented home in Weybridge. Mrs Mills works for two days per week as a beauty therapist, the court was told. Frank Feehan, representing Mrs Mills, said she had been left with the responsibility for the couple's young child and without enough money to buy a house that she considered "good enough". He said his client was "unable to meet her basic needs". In the ruling, Sir Ernest said Mr Mills had the ability to make the increased maintenance "until a further order of the court".