Bid to take divorce maintenance payment case to Supreme Court

By Lenore Rice

A man is bidding to raise funds to take his divorce maintenance payment challenge to the Supreme Court, in order to change the "outmoded and dangerous" courts that he believes makes men "cash machines for life."

Graham Mills divorced his wife Maria in 2002 and agreed to pay her a £230,000 lump sum in order for her to purchase a property for her and their young son. He also agreed to pay a monthly maintenance payment of £1,100. After 12 years of making payments under this arrangement, his ex-wife Maria remarried and had another child. Graham Mills went to court in a bid to end the maintenance payments, as his son was now aged 23 and he considered that Maria was now able to work. The courts refused to end the maintenance payment arrangements.

Maria then took her ex-husband to court again to increase the maintenance payments as she had lost all her money following what were described as "poor financial decisions" and "unwise" property purchases. The Appeal Court considered that Maria was "unable to meet her basic needs" with her part-time job as a beauty therapist and increased the monthly maintenance payments by just over 30 per cent to £1,441.

The decision received widespread criticism, and the battle between the two became very public. Mr Mills said he felt like he was paying for his ex-wife's "mismanagement of finances". He says there are "thousands of people supporting my view and they all feel it is morally wrong and unfair." He has started a fundraising campaign called 'divorced men: doomed to life as a cash machine' in a bid to raise the £50,000 required to challenge the decision in the Supreme Court.

Mr Mills says the decision by the Appeal Court makes his ex-wife "dependent" rather than helping her "move towards independence", which he believes divorce courts should be motivated to do. He further criticised what he describes as the "archaic" courts for treating women as though they are "damsels in distress and need to be protected". That sentiment has been echoed by Baroness Deech, who accuses family law judges of being "over-chivalrous". She believes the approach to women in divorce is a "very serious impediment to equality", as there is "an assumption throughout the legal system that once she is married, she is somehow disabled and incapable of ever managing on her own."

If you require legal advice from a divorce solicitor in Northern Ireland, contact the family law team at Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by clicking here.