Supreme Court allows wife’s financial claim to proceed after 18 years of divorce

Posted on: April 13th, 2015

In Wyatt v Vince, Ms Wyatt sought to make a financial claim against her husband 18 years after her divorce and 30 years after the parties separated. In the time since their relationship, her former husband, Dale Vince, has gone from a penniless New Age traveller to a multi-millionaire green business owner as founder of energy firm Ecotricity.

The claim will now be determined by the High Court who will make a ruling as to what Ms Wyatt is entitled to. If she had pursued her financial claims at the time of divorce, there would likely have been a capital clean break at that point and no ability to come back and claim more now. It seems she will now make a claim against her ex husband based on her contributions through caring for the children after the marriage breakdown, but the impact of the delay in bringing a claim is unknown at this stage.

Bryan Scant, solicitor at Coffin Mew commented:

Family solicitors have always advised client’s that simply getting a divorce does not dismiss their financial claims against each other. This case simply highlights the importance of ensuring that all financial matters are finalized at the time of divorce and a court order is obtained. It is important that people who have become wealthy over time are not exposed to potentially opportunistic claims many years after a marriage has broken down.

Whilst it is beneficial that the family courts have a wide discretion to tailor the outcomes to suit individual families it is very difficult for client’s to know with any certainty what they can expect when contemplating separation/divorce. Getting advice early on from a family solicitor will be important.