LEGAL COMMENT: Supreme Court rules against increasing spousal maintenance

The new decision overrules an earlier Court of Appeal judgment which allowed a variation in payments

The Supreme Court has ruled that a divorced husband should not have to increase payments to his ex-wife after she mismanaged her finances following their split, overruling a Court of Appeal decision which entitled the ex-wife to a variation of the periodical payments of her original divorce settlement in order to cover her rental payments.

Fiona Turner, partner at national law firm Weightmans , comments:

"The Supreme Court’s decision will be seen as the correct one. The Court of Appeal’s original decision to increase Mrs Mills’ maintenance payments, in circumstances where Mrs Mills had made some unwise financial decisions, resulting in a self-generated increase in her own income needs, was a surprise to many. Today’s hearing is back in line with previous cases.
"It’s clear that one party should not be at risk of being held responsible for the financial consequences of the other, from whom they are long divorced, if they make dubious or unwise investments. This judgement confirms this. A party cannot expect their ex-spouse to be ‘an insurer against all hazards’, particularly when those ‘hazards’ - or increased needs - are self-generated.
"The ruling should be welcomed as a positive step towards helping divorced parties achieve financial autonomy, without the risk of a future claim from an ex-spouse arising from circumstances over which only one party has control."

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