British court tells husband divorced for a decade and half, ‘you owe her [support] for life, no matter what’
Graham Mills, a 50-year-old surveyor in London, UK, paid his ex-wife $298,000 [£230,000] lump sum settlement when they divorced in 2002
Maria Mills 51, also got $1371 monthly in spousal support per the divorce decree
A decade and half later she’s dragged, Graham who has since remarried and desperate to move on, back to court demanding more money
She told the court she’d lost all her cash after making some bad real estate investments
Real estatea agent Maria Mills claimed she could no longer support the ‘basic needs’ to which she is accustomed
Graham Mills 51, has to pay enhanced monthly spousal support of $1796 after he was told he must ignore what he paid his ex before and must ‘support her [Maria] for life because she is unable to meet her basic needs’
The couple who have a grown son were married 13 years
Victory: Maria Mills will be ‘supported for life’ by her ex-husband, Graham Mills after winning a High Court battle
A divorced wife who received a $298,000 lump sum payout 15 years ago will be “supported for life” by her ex after she took him back to court, after she spent all the cash from her divorce settlement
Maria Mills got the cash in 2002 as well as $1,371 monthly personal maintenance payments when she split with Graham Mills, 50, after 13 years of marriage and a son.
Maria property portfolio included this home in Wimbledon, currently valued at $888,000
But the 51-year-old estate agent testified that she spiralled into debt after “unwisely” investing in a number of upmarket properties in London in a bid to climb the housing ladder.
The former Mills said she purchased three properties over the years, which records show to have appreciated over the years based on average UK property prices. The homes were located in different upmarket parts of the capital city:
Weybridge, Surrey – £797,000
Battersea, central London – $1.25 million
Wimbledon, south-west London – £888,000
The court ordered an uptick in Maria’s monthly payments to £1,796. Additionally,
her ex-husband was told he must support her for life because she is “unable to meet her basic needs” regardless of what happened to the original divorce settlement.
Graham Mills had already handed his ex $298,000 and a monthly payment when they divorced in 2002
Graham had argued that he shouldn’t be the insurer against his wife’s “poor financial decisions” and be forced to “pick up the tab” 15 years after they split.
During the hearing the court was told that the couple, who have a grown-up son, were married for 13 years but separated in 2001 and divorced in 2002, after reaching an agreement on how their wealth should be split.
Surveyor Graham agreed to give his ex, who formerly worked for a Notting Hill estate agent, $1,376 a month in personal maintenance, as well as almost all their “liquid capital” when they split, while he kept his businesses.
But his wife “unwisely invested in a series of properties in the British capital, each time moving upmarket” from a house in Weybridge, Surrey, to a smart three-bedroom flat in Wimbledon.
She eventually purchased a two-bedroom apartment in a luxury Victorian mansion block in pricey Battersea.
Each time she “over-financed” by increasing her mortgage liabilities, but failed to offset them with enough profit from the sale of the properties.
After selling the Battersea apartment in 2009, the estate agent was forced to move to Weybridge in a rented home where she works two days a week as a beauty therapist.
The case was heard in family court last year with the wife seeking increased spousal support because she couldn’t manage financially and the ex-husband seeking a clean break.
The presiding judge, Mark Everall threw out both their challenges but they then each instructed attorneys to renew their battle before the Court of Appeal.
During the hearing in the appeals court, Justice Sir Ernest, in giving the court’s ruling, said Mr Mills had been regarded as “reliable, truthful and frank” by Judge Everall, who had been “less impressed with the wife”.
The court heard how Graham has remarried with a new family and is desperate to move on with his life. His attorney, Philip Cayford, called for a change in the law to limit maintenance and encourage “independence” post divorce.
He added: “The husband has done all that could be reasonably expected of him in his reasonable wish to move on post-divorce.
“The same cannot be said of the wife. It is a result of her poor financial decisions that the capital provision has been dissipated.
“The husband has played no part in the wife’s losses…and yet is expected effectively to pick up the tab.”
Maria Mills’ attorney Frank Feehan, admitted his client “wasn’t a good businesswoman” but said she had health difficulties and was “unable to meet her basic needs”.