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.