The impact to you of the latest divorce case of Wyatt v Vince which hit the headlines last week

Always finalise your financial agreements following a divorce by way of a Consent or final Order to prevent your ex-spouse pursuing you in later years for a share of any after acquired assets and to prevent the expense of pursuing or contesting the proceedings.

In the recent Supreme Court case of Wyatt v Vince [2015] UKSC 14 the ex-wife pursued her claim for a financial settlement some 18 years after the Decree Absolute had been granted ending their marriage. Mr. Vince’s business subsequently took off and he became a multi-millionaire.

Mr. Vince made an application to the court to summarily strike out Ms. Wyatt’s claim on the basis that there were no reasonable grounds for bringing the application; and that the application was an abuse of the court's process or was otherwise likely to obstruct the just disposal of the proceedings.

Ms. Wyatt made an application for Mr. Vince to fund her legal costs.

On 14 December 2012 a deputy High Court judge dismissed Mr. Vince's strike-out application and ordered him to make interim periodical payments in respect of legal costs. Mr. Vince appealed, successfully, to the Court of Appeal to have the deputy judge's orders set aside. She appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court upheld her appeal. The Judges held that “when an ex-spouse applies for a financial order, the court has a duty under section 25(1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 ("the 1973 Act") to determine that application having regard to all the circumstances, including the eight matters set out in subsection (2); this assessment is not apt for summary determination.”

On this basis, that it was a proper application to be heard substantively by the court, Mr. Vince also failed in his argument that it was an abuse of process. Subsequently, as Ms. Wyatt was unable to reasonably secure legal services by any other means and it would be unreasonable to expect her solicitors to continue to act without payment until the determination of her substantive application the test for interim periodical payments in respect of legal costs was made out and the original order upheld.

This does not mean that Ms. Wyatt will automatically achieve a final settlement from Mr. Vince but that the court must consider the application as it would any other, taking into consideration the s.25 factors but it does provide a timely reminder to all divorcees who don't have financial orders in place that they should do so to avoid later claims based on wealth acquired after the divorce.

If you feel you are not protected please contact Andie Brown head of our family team for professional advice “clear and simple” on 01524-386500