Maria Mills, 51, and ex-husband Graham Mills
Former estate agent Maria Mills, 51, was awarded the cash and maintenance payments in her 2002 divorce settlement from husband Graham Mills, 50, after 13 years of marriage.
But she lost it all and plunged heavily into debt after investing “unwisely” in a series of ever more “upmarket” London properties.
Now top judges at London’s Appeal Court have ordered Mrs Mills’ monthly payouts to be upped to £1,441 and told her ex-husband he must support her for life, because she is “unable to meet her basic needs”.
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Mr Mills earlier pleaded that he “should not be the insurer against the wife’s poor financial decisions” and forced to “pick up the tab” 15 years after they split.
His barrister, Philip Cayford QC called for changes in the law to limit maintenance. He told the judges Mr Mills, who lives in Guildford, has remarried, has a new family and is desperate to “move on” with his life.
Former estate agent Mrs Mills was awarded the cash and maintenance payments in her 2002 settlement
“It is wrong in principle and in law that the wife should continue to depend, and indeed seek to increase, her dependence,” added the QC.
She had health issues throughout and a child to bring up
Frank Feehan QC
The pair went before a family judge last year, with Mrs Mills asking for more maintenance and her husband seeking a clean break. But Judge Mark Everall QC threw out both their challenges.
Lord Justice Longmore and Sir Ernest Ryder heard that Mrs Mills’ house purchases had been from a house in Weybridge to a Wimbledon flat to a luxury mansion flat in Battersea.
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Mr Mills earlier pleaded that he should not be responsible for his wife's poor financial decisions
But each time she had overfinanced and she is now living in a rented home in Weybridge and working part-time as a beauty therapist.
Her lawyer, Frank Feehan QC, told the court: “She had health issues throughout and a child to bring up.”
The luxury flat in Battersea that Mrs Mills had purchased
Sir Ernest, giving the court’s ruling, said Judge Everall had calculated the wife’s “needs” at £1,441 a month, but had not increased her maintenance payments from £1,100.
However, he said Judge Everall “made an error of principle” in not explaining why Mrs Mills’ payments should not be raised and that Mr Mills “has the ability to make the maintenance payments asked for”.
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