Wife seeks financial orders against now wealthy ex-husband 18 years after divorce
The parties married in December 1981 at which time they were both receiving State benefits.
In May 1983 they had a child and they separated the following February. The parties divorced in October 1992, at which time both were receiving State benefits and neither party had any assets. Mr Vince married his current wife in 2006 with whom he has a son, and Ms Wyatt had a relationship with another man with whom she had children at the time of the divorce.
It is not known whether any financial orders were made at the time of the divorce, this having taken place so long ago that all Court papers (apart from the divorce decree itself) and the solicitor’s files had been destroyed.
In 1996 Mr Vince founded the world’s first green energy company, Ecotricity. The company has since become a very successful business, estimated to be worth £90 million.
Ms Wyatt was permitted by the High Court to pursue her claims for a housing fund and capitalised life time maintenance. The High Court also ordered Mr Vince to pay £125,000 into a fighting fund to enable Ms Wyatt to bring the claim against him.
However, the Court of Appeal ordered that Ms Wyatt’s claims be struck out in their entirety. This was on the basis that at the time that the parties divorced, namely the time when Ms Wyatt should have brought her claim, neither party had any assets or income and both were in new relationships. Mr Vince had accumulated his wealth some years after the divorce.
In judgement the Court found that the facts of this particular case were extreme. It is inevitable however that the passage of time can damage a spouse’s claims against the other and yet it remains the case that if financial claims are not dealt with at the time of divorce, then ex-husbands and wives can remain vulnerable to future claims until the Court has the opportunity to address and consider the dismissal of those claims.
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