• Sonia Rola

Overspending wife fails to have divorce payments increased

Overspending wife fails to have divorce payments increased

A wife who lost most of her divorce settlement because of unsuccessful investments has failed in her legal battle to make her former husband pay her more to compensate for her losses.

Graham and Maria Mills had married in 1987 and divorced in 2002. They had one child.

The matrimonial home was sold, and the proceeds were used to award £230,000 to Mrs Mills in settlement of all her capital claims against her husband.

Mr Mills was also ordered to make periodical payments at an annual rate of £13,200.

When the consent order was made, he conceded that Mrs Mills had no capacity to raise a mortgage but suggested that she could buy a suitable home for her son and herself for £230,000 or less without a mortgage.

Instead, she obtained part-time employment and bought a house for £345,000 by using the capital sum and raising the balance with a mortgage.

Mrs Mills then entered into a number of property investments, which turned out to be unsuccessful. By 2015, she had no capital, significant liabilities and was living in rented accommodation.

She applied to the court for an increase in the monthly payments made to her by Mr Mills.

The judge found that there was a shortfall of £4,092 between her annual need and what Mr Mills was paying but he refused to order an increase.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, which has upheld the judge’s decision. It held that the original divorce settlement in 2002 would have enabled Mrs Mills to buy a home free of a mortgage but she had not managed her finances wisely.

She was in her current position because of the choices she had made. She would have to adjust her expenditure to live within her means and that it was fair that the husband's contribution should not be increased to compensate for her unwise investments.

The judge at the original hearing was entitled to decline her application for Mr Mills to increase his payments to her, even if he could afford to do so.

Please contact our expert legal team on 0208 004 0065, by email at hello@southgate.co.uk or using the form below if you would like more information or advice about the issues raised in this article, or any aspect of family law.

Case Citations: [2018] UKSC 38, MILLS v MILLS (2018) SC (Lady Hale PSC, Lord Wilson JSC, Lord Carnwath JSC, Lord Hughes JSC, Lord Hodge JSC)

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