What Kathleen Wyatt vs Dale Vince teaches us
A recent Supreme Court decision demonstrates the importance of obtaining a financial order after every divorce.
Kathleen Wyatt versus Dale Vince
Kathleen Wyatt, 55, has been given permission by the Supreme Court to bring financial claims before the Family Court. This is despite it being 23 years since her divorce from former husband Dale Vince.
Mr Vince and Ms Wyatt met in their 20s and married in 1981 and had a son. They lived a traveller lifestyle with little money throughout the marriage, before divorcing in 1992.
In 1995, three years after his marriage ended, Mr Vince set up his company, Ecotricity. He is reportedly now worth in excess of £100 million.
No Financial Order in place
When the couple divorced they did not obtain a financial order from the court, meaning their claims in respect of their marriage were never dismissed.
In 2011 Ms Wyatt made a claim to the court for a lump sum payment of £1.9 million from Mr Vince. She argues that she was left in financial hardship whilst Mr Vince built his company.
During this period she raised their son and believes this contribution should be recognised. Mr Vince did successfully appeal on the basis that Ms Wyatt's application was out of time.
The Supreme Court has now overruled that decision and Ms Wyatt's claim will be heard by the Family Court who will make a decision on quantum.
Some timely advice
Kathryn Ferris, Head of the Family Law department at Wallace Robinson & Morgan solicitors says "this case reinforces the position that there is no limitation period restricting financial claims following a divorce.
If separating couples do not conclude their financial matters by obtaining a clean break order upon divorce they leave themselves exposed to the risk that wealth acquired post-divorce could become the subject of a future claim by their former spouse.
Obtaining a clean break order can cost less than £1,000. This is a small amount compared to the costs Mr Vince has incurred fighting this litigation. The Supreme Court have indicated that Ms Wyatt's claim for £1.9m is too high but Mr Vince still faces the prospect of being ordered to pay her something and is required to pay the costs she incurred in taking the matter to the Supreme Court.
In my mind there is no doubt that cost outlay on securing an order at the time of the divorce is money well spent."
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