Maintenance case goes to the Supreme Court

Graham Mills, who believes that he has been unfairly treated by being ordered to pay maintenance to his ex-wife for life, has been granted permission to take his case to the Supreme Court. For details of the case, see this post.

Mr Mills had asked the court to stop the maintenance, arguing that his ex-wife wife Heather had lost the capital she had been awarded in 2002 to rehouse herself through gross financial mismanagement, and that she was in a position to work more in order to increase her earnings. However, The Supreme Court has only granted him permission to appeal on the single ground of whether, provision having already been made for Mrs Mills’ housing costs in the capital settlement, the Court of Appeal erred in taking these into account when it decided to increase her maintenance.

A hearing will be scheduled in due course.

It is a pity that the Supreme Court will not be considering the wider issue of whether it is appropriate for a spouse to be awarded maintenance potentially for the rest of their life – the so-called ‘meal ticket for life’. Still, it will be interesting to see what the Supreme Court has to say regarding the housing costs issue.

Under the present law a spousal maintenance order lasts until either party dies, or until the party in whose favour it was made remarries or enters into a civil partnership, unless the court specifies that it should end sooner. Note that the fact that the party in whose favour the order was made cohabits with another person does not automatically bring the order to an end, but may be grounds to request the court to reduce, or even stop, the maintenance.

Image: UK Supreme Court building, by Cary Bass-Deschenes, licensed under CC BY 2.0.