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Wyatt v Vince

| Published on March 12, 2015

The Supreme Court today has highlighted how important it is for parties to obtain a financial order at the time they divorce. Otherwise they run the risk of a claim being made against them many years later when they might be in a substantially different financial position.

The key point in this case is that the parties did not enter into a financial order when they obtained their divorce.  This is a common mistake but, as the court has pointed out, the court may make orders on the granting of a divorce, “or at any time thereafter” prior to a remarriage.  The fact that the wife had not remarried, means that she is now entitled to make such a claim. 

It is therefore essential that on obtaining a divorce, parties do deal with the financial claims between them, even if that is a simple dismissal of those claims. You should also consider your position if you are divorced and did not obtain a financial order, as this case shows, it is important to resolve these issues before a claim is made.

In Wyatt v Vince the parties were married in December 1981, had a child together, but they only cohabitated for a little over two years.  The marriage broke down some 31 years ago, and the parties divorced in October 1992.  At that stage, neither party had any assets, and both were living a traveller lifestyle. 

The husband remarried, and the Wife had more children by a different partner but did not remarry.

The husband then started a business in green energy, this was some 13 years after the breakdown of the marriage.  That business became hugely successful and the husband became very wealthy.

In 2011, the wife issued proceedings for a financial settlement from the husband, some 18/19 years after the divorce was finalised.

The husband on receipt of the wife’s application, cross applied to the court for the wife’s application to be struck out, ie for it to be dismissed by the court.

This case ended up before the Supreme court, who today (11th March), confirmed that the wife should be able to proceed with her claim against her husband, despite the length of time it had taken to be brought before the court.

The court indicated that the wife would have to explain the delay in seeking a remedy from the court, and that what she was asking for (£1.9 million) was out of the question.  However the court did indicate that the wife’s contributions in looking after the parties child without significant financial contribution from the husband did have a prospect of success.

The court have therefore confirmed that the wife’s application can proceed and the court is now going to have to determine what award should be made to the wife.

The issue explored in this article is a common occurrence for many divorced couples who may not realise that when they divorce, this doesn’t mean they are financially separate from each other and could still claim rights to their former partner’s finances. If you have a question about divorce or a family matter please contact a Humphries Kirk family law solicitor via www.hklaw.eu

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