Can your ex come back to haunt you?

A woman whose marriage broke down more than 30 years ago has won the right to seek a lump sum from her ex-husband who became a millionaire more than a decade after they separated.

Mr Vince and Ms Wyatt met when they were students and married in 1981 and lived a new age traveller lifestyle.  They had a son and Mr Vince also treated Ms Wyatt's daughter from a previous relationship as a child of the family.  The couple separated in 1984 and Ms Wyatt brought up the children.

 The couple's divorce was finalised in 1992 and even though Mr Vince claimed a financial order was made, there is no evidence of this.  In the late 1990's Mr Vince went on to become a green energy tycoon after launching a company called Ecotricity, which is now a multi-million pound company.  Mr Vince argued that his ex spouse had lodged her claim for financial provision in 2011 too late, but five Supreme Court justices have unanimously ruled that her case should proceed and ordered Mr Vince to pay Ms Wyatt's costs.  To date Mr Vince has indicated that he has paid £500,000 in costs.

Delay will be a factor when the Court determines what award Ms Wyatt may receive, but is not a factor preventing her from pursuing her claim.  At present Ms Wyatt is seeking a lump sum of £1.9 million.  The Supreme Court has told her she is unlikely to receive this amount but a further court hearing will determine just how much she should receive.

The ruling could open the floodgates for anyone wishing to bring a claim against an ex-spouse where no financial court order has been made regardless of how long ago they divorced.  We would suggest any divorcees who don't have financial court orders in place review their situation and seek legal advice to protect any wealth acquired after their divorce.

The impact this will have on Mr Vince's family could be significant and felt for generations to come.

This ruling is a clear warning for couples who don't finalise their financial issues on divorce.  If you want a clean break with no come backs, you need to act prudently at the time of the divorce and obtain a Court Order otherwise your ex spouse could come back to haunt you many years down the line.

For advice on all financial matters arising in divorce/separation please contact a member of our Family Team on 01482 337361.

Posted on: 12/03/2015

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.

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