Court grants appeal of wife claiming against millionaire ex-husband’s fortune after nearly 20 years

March 12, 2015  |   Posted by :   |   Blog
Yesterday the Supreme Court reinstated the right of a millionaire’s ex-wife to claim financial support after nearly 20 years after their divorce. After marrying in 1981 and divorcing in 1992 with no assets to divide, Kathleen Wyatt and Dale Vince went their separate ways. While Wyatt continued to bring up their two children, Vince founded green energy company Ecotricity, now a multi-million pound business. In 2010 Kathleen made an appeal to receive a financial settlement, 18 years after the fact.
The Supreme Court have since allowed the appeal, acknowledging it as a legally recognisable claim and enabling Wyatt’s application to continue through the Family Division of the High Court. This means she will be able to make a claim for a settlement to reflect her contribution to the welfare of the family, such as looking after the home or caring for children. Having a financial claim accepted so long after the fact is something of an unprecedented success, but the Wyatt/Vince case should act as a cautionary tale to those who delay application for financial support. Family law solicitor Frances Lindsay explains:
“While this case is a headline-maker it is not new. It does, however, highlight how important it is to establish a financial settlement when you get divorced. While Ms Wyatt has a claim against the now wealthy Mr Vince, she will not receive half his estate, as she might once have been entitled to – not even close to that. The settlement will take into account the fact that she has cared for their children without any support from him, considering that this will have had a significant impact on her own ability to create a secure future for herself. However, to receive the settlement it will also cost her a considerable amount in legal fees. She will also have spent considerable emotional costs just to get to this point. And while it’s true that had she made her application for financial remedy when they first split she would have received very little, she would have at least received ongoing financial support for her children, which may well have changed her life and theirs.”
This case highlights the importance of settling financial matters during a divorce, especially if a couple has dependent children – wanting to speed through the process as quickly as possible is no excuse for neglecting important decisions that may affect your financial future and the future of your children. The success of Wyatt’s appeal is also being held up as an opportunity for divorced individuals to raise a claim against a former spouse, no matter how long ago they separated. Anyone with an uncompleted financial order is at risk of facing a claim based on wealth accumulated after a divorce, or may be eligible to appeal for financial contributions from their ex. If you’re in any doubt, review your situation with your family lawyer – or speak to the family law team at Frances Lindsay & Co for more advice on separation and divorce.
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