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Application for Financial Remedies allowed 22 years after divorce 03/03/2015

The Supreme Court unanimously allowed an appeal by a former wife for financial remedies 22 years after the couple divorced. The ruling means that the former wife’s application will now be allowed to proceed through the Family Division of the High Court.

The couple in this case, Ms Wyatt and Mr Vince, had married in 1981. They had one child together, a son, and Ms Wyatt had a daughter from a previous relationship whom Mr Vince treated as his own child. The couple separated in 1984 and Ms Wyatt brought up the children with no financial support from Mr Vince who was pursuing a New-Age Traveller lifestyle. The couple finally divorced at the end of 1992. Mr Vince went on to found his company Ecotricity in 1992 which led him to become a multi-millionaire.

In 2011 Ms Wyatt made an application for a lump sum payment from Mr Vince and for interim payments to fund her legal costs. Mr Vince made a cross application which was struck out and it was held that he would have to make such interim payments to Ms Wyatt for this purpose.

Mr Vince argued that Ms Wyatt had lodged her application too late for it to be considered. But the Supreme Court ruled that no such statute of limitations applies in this type of case. Lord Wilson stated that Ms Wyatt’s claim was “legally recognisable” and not an “abuse of process”. He further acknowledged that Ms Wyatt’s contribution towards the upkeep of their child was “quite unmatched by Mr Vince”.

This case is unusual in its circumstances, however, it should still serve as a warning to divorcing couples of the importance of obtaining a Financial Order in the divorce process in order to protect each party’s assets after the divorce is finalised, even if the value of the assets at the time of the divorce is minimal or nonexistent.

For further information and advice on this issue, and other family law issues, please contact us for a free initial consultation on 01992 306 616 or 0207 956 2740 or email us.

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