Should a spouse be responsible for the financial mistakes of the other spouse beyond divorce?

Should a spouse be responsible for the financial mistakes of the other spouse beyond divorce?

The Supreme Court has recently ruled that in the landmark Mills v Mills case, the divorced husband should not have to increase payments to his ex-wife after she mismanaged her finances following their split.

In a case which has effectively spanned over a decade from the original divorce proceedings, the Supreme Court has ruled on former Husband, Mr Mills’ application to reduce or bring to an end the monthly maintenance sums that he had been ordered to pay upon the divorce.

Mr Mills had applied for the variation following changes in the parties’ circumstances since the divorce was finalised. Mr Mills’ case was that Mrs Mills had lost the capital she had been awarded in 2002 through her gross financial mismanagement and also was in a position to work more in order to increase her earnings.

Mr Mills’ had appealed to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeal had increased the maintenance payment required of Mr Mills when it found Mrs Mills in debt and unable to meet her basic housing costs after making a series of poor investments.

The Supreme Court today overruled the Court of Appeal’s decision saying that while ongoing payments must continue, Mr Mills should not be required to pay more to support his former Wife’s housing costs given that she had failed to manage her finances properly.

Campaigners against what they perceive as the ‘meal ticket for life’ of indefinite maintenance orders will see this as positive, and it demonstrates – despite the Supreme Court stressing that its decision is not a commentary on the principles behind maintenance orders generally – that the English Courts are increasingly looking to achieve a financial clean break from each other.

If you would like to discuss the matters raised in this article, please contact Anna Ferro on 01494 478612 or email