Wife is granted a financial settlement from a man she divorced 23 years ago!
Potentially ground breaking recent divorce case shows the importance of parties achieving a settlement of their finances upon divorce.
The recent Supreme Court case of Ms Wyatt and Mr Vince involved an appeal by the former wife, Ms Wyatt, against the striking out of her claim in the first instance by the divorce courts.
The parties were married on 18th December 1981 and had a son together. Ms Wyatt also had a child from a previous relationship and Mr Vince treated her as his daughter. The parties separated two years later when Mr Vince pursued a travelling lifestyle. Despite attempts to extract maintenance payments from Mr Vince, Ms Wyatt received very little from him and consequently had to financially support the children by herself.
The parties were divorced some eleven years after marriage. In the late 1990’s, Mr Vince’s green energy business grew and the company is now valued at £57 million. In stark contrast, Ms Wyatt’s circumstances continued to remain modest.
In 2011, Ms Wyatt made an application to the divorce court for financial relief claiming a lump sum from Mr Vince. However, Mr Vince made a cross-application for Ms Wyatt’s application to be struck out. In the first instance Mr Vince’s application was struck out but he successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal. Ms Wyatt then appealed this decision to the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court reinstated Ms Wyatt’s ability to claim saying that she had a valid claim because her contribution to raising the children was a legitimate claim and she had a right to have that claim heard despite the fact that her case is an uphill struggle given t
he passage of time and the short marriage.
The decision of the Supreme Court has caused considerable controversy against strategic divorce lawyers and it is unsurprising that it has caught the attention of the national press.
Many husbands or wives will no doubt be reading this case in the press and wondering whether they are at risk of potential action being taken by their ex-spouses for unresolved financial matters relating to their marriage.
What many people fail to take into consideration is that although the value of the parties’ assets are taken into account as at the date of separation or divorce, there is no statute of limitation of time for these kinds of cases and assets are valued up to the date of hearing.
For many individuals, this could mean that their ex-spouses’ potential financial claims could be for significantly higher sums (on the basis of your current assets) rather than at the time you separated.
Does this sound grossly unfair to you? It does to me. Had Mr Vince secured a divorce settlement at the time of his divorce in 1992 (or even subsequent to the date) he would have been in a much better position than the potential claim that now sits before him by Ms Wyatt. Had Mr Vince obtained a financial order governing the financial aspects of his marriage at the time (even if there were none!) he would not have found himself in his current position.
Where parties are divorcing it is absolutely crucial that they provide themselves with protection from any potential future claims against them by entering into a divorce settlement and financial order with their soon to be ex-spouse. Even where a party is divorced with unresolved financial matters, it is essential that they make sure that a financial order is obtained without delay.
Don’t take the chance of becoming a ‘Mr Vince’ and place yourself at risk of having to give away a significant amount of the fortune which you have amassed post-divorce - make sure there is a financial order in place.
Here at Pinder Reaux, we have a team of strategic divorce lawyers who are ready to discuss your matter with you. Please do not hesitate to contact us on 0208 252