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Landmark divorce ruling could trigger increase in financial claims

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Were all financial matters resolved when you divorced? In a recent landmark ruling a woman whose marriage broke down more than 30 years ago has won the right to the seek payments from her ex-husband. The case highlights the importance of obtaining a Court Order to draw a line under any financial claims.

Kathleen Wyatt has been granted permission by the Supreme Court to bring a claim against Dale Vince, the multimillionaire founder of green energy company Ecotricity.

The couple married in 1981, when she was 21 and he was 19. Wyatt already had a child from an earlier relationship who was accepted as part of the family. They had a baby son together in 1983 but they separated soon after. Eventually, they divorced in 1992. Wyatt subsequently had two more children from a later relationship.

Wyatt, now 55, brought up their son and has few assets.  She is claiming £1.9m from Vince whose business is said to be worth £57m.

Although the judges warned Wyatt that she faces “formidable difficulties” in seeking a financial order in view of the long delay and because the relationship lasted less than three years, they said that the Family Court could not strike out Wyatt’s claim without full consideration.  She will now have to return to the High Court to pursue her claim.

This ruling demonstrates that in the absence of a completed financial order it is possible to bring a claim against a former spouse regardless of how long ago the parties divorced.

The case highlights how vital it is to ensure that all financial matters are finalised at the time of divorce and that a Court Order is obtained. Otherwise it could lead to future claims on money earned after the divorce.

If you would like any more information regarding divorce proceedings and financial matters please visit our Divorce and Separation page or contact a member of our Family Team.