The case of Wyatt v Vince – a lesson for clients and solicitors!

The Supreme Court has this week considered the case of Wyatt v Vince and in particular whether an ex-spouse should be prohibited from pursuing a claim for financial orders many years after the parties had divorced.

The facts of the case were that the parties had a short marriage and a low standard of living. The parties had one child of the marriage with another child of the wife being treated as a child of the marriage.

Following the divorce the husband formed a green energy company and is now a multi-millionaire. The wife played no part in the creation of the husband’s wealth.  In 2011, 19 years after the Decree Absolute was made, the wife applied for financial orders but in 2013 the claim was struck out by the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court have today overturned that decision but have provided some guidelines as to how they expect the application to proceed.

Whilst the wife seeks £1.9 million from the husband the Court has made it clear that, although allowing the appeal, she still faces an uphill battle and the sum she seeks is unrealistic.

The case has reinforced the need to ensure that divorcing parties resolve their financial relationship formally either by consent order or via application to Court; and highlights the pitfalls for parties and their solicitors in not doing so. It is of note that in in this case, had there been a formal financial settlement i.e. a final Court Order the application could not have been made!

If you have any queries as to the implications of this decision or wish to discuss any of the issues it raises please call either Chris Lloyd-Smith or Jane Barclay in our Family team on 0121 643 5531.