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Do I Really Need a Financial Order on Divorce?

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Do I really need to get a Financial Order on divorce?

A very recent Judgment would strongly suggest that the answer to that is ‘YES’ … if you do not want to be looking over your shoulder indefinitely.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a former wife has a right to have her financial claim heard in the family court 22 years after her divorce.

In Wyatt v Vince, the parties had not enjoyed a high standard of living during the time they lived together. They lived largely on benefits and in rented accommodation. They separated in 1983 after about two years together.  The husband then spent about eight years as a traveller. The parties were divorced in 1992. The husband went on to build a very successful business and became a multi-millionaire. The wife applied for financial provision to enable her to buy a home and to establish a fund to maintain her for life. She valued the claim at £1.9M.

In the course of giving the unanimous  judgment of the Supreme Court, Lord Wilson referred to the ‘formidable difficulties’ in the wife’s application :

(a)          The marital cohabitation subsisted for scarcely more than two years.

(b)         It broke down 31 years ago.

(c)          The standard of living enjoyed by the parties prior to the breakdown could not have been lower.

(d)         The husband did not begin to create his current wealth until 13 years after the breakdown.

(e)         The wife has made no contribution, direct or indirect, to its creation.

He also went on to consider, in some detail, the delay in pursuing the claim.

Lord Wilson went on to criticise the way the former wife had put her claim and to say that ‘an award approaching that size is out of the question’.  There was more merit in her argument based on the relative contributions of the parties to the welfare of the family.

However divorcing couples should be aware that, unless their agreement is contained in an order, approved by the court there can be no certainty that a settlement will not be challenged or money they earn, and assets they, acquire post divorce will be safe from a claim by their former spouse in the future.

At SWLaw we offer a fixed price for obtaining an order by consent where you and your partner agree on how the finances should be split (certain conditions apply). Further, if you cannot agree on a settlement, we will do everything we can to help you reach a settlement in an amicable and non-confrontational way, which can then be finalised by way of court order.

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