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Caroline Ryan

Posted 18 July 2018
by Caroline Ryan

The End of a Meal Ticket for Life?

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The Supreme Court has overturned a decision by the Court of Appeal for a husband to increase payments to his ex-wife following her mismanagement of finances. Today’s unanimous decision allowed the appeal of the husband in Mills v Mills, concluding that the judge at first instance had been entitled to refuse to vary an order for spousal maintenance to require the husband to pay the wife’s rental costs. The Court of Appeal had backed the wife’s request to increase maintenance payments.

Following the couple’s 2002 divorce, after 15 years of marriage, the wife received £230,000 capital and annual spousal maintenance of £13,200. By 2015 the wife had mismanaged her finances and made some unfortunate investment decisions, resulting in her incurring debts of over £40,000. There was also by this time a shortfall of over £4,000 a year between her income needs and the spousal maintenance being paid by her ex-husband, due to the wife having to move to rented accommodation.

Tracy Lambert, Partner and Head of Tozers’ Family team, comments:

The decision not to increase maintenance payments for the wife in this case is consistent with recent decisions from the higher courts that the notion of a ‘meal ticket for life’ following divorce is a thing of the past in a large number of cases. While spousal maintenance orders are still relevant in many divorces, such orders will generally be appropriate for only a set period of time. The general trend in this area indicates an expectation for both parties to move towards financial independence, meaning the party with a higher income will not be expected to pay maintenance to a former spouse indefinitely.

If you have any queries regarding a matter similar to this, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our experienced team of family law solicitors in Devon on 01392 207020.

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About the author

Caroline Ryan

Caroline Ryan

Consultant Solicitor

Consultant in the Exeter family team with particular expertise in finances on divorce