The case of Vince v Wyatt has widely been exposed in the media and been eagerly followed by family practitioners.
The case involved Ms Wyatt who sought to pursue a financial claim some 27 years after her divorce to former husband Mr Vince. Since separating in the mid 80’s Mr Vince had gone from a penniless New Age traveller to a multi-millionaire green business owner as founder of energy firm Ecotricity.
The parties met in early 1981 when Mr Vince was 19 and Ms Wyatt was 21. In December 1981 they married. Ms Wyatt brought a child from a previous relationship into the marriage and in 1983 the parties had a child together. They lived off state benefits. They separated in 1984 after a little over 2 years of marriage..
At the time Mr Vince was a ‘new age traveller’ and lived for some time in an ambulance, converted into a camper van and moved around. Ms Wyatt effectively lived ‘hand to mouth’ with Mr Vince providing minimal support due to his financial means (at the time).
The parties divorced but did not sort out their financial arrangements. Ms Wyatt went on to have 2 more children but never married again. Mr Vince went on to develop a success company Ecotricity, which is estimated to be worth at least £57million. He remarried and had another child.
In 2011 Ms Wyatt began her case by issuing an application to court for a lump sum and interim monthly payments to meet her legal costs. Mr Vince appealed and asked for the case to be stuck out. The case progressed to the Supreme Court and on 11th March 2015 they ruled unanimously that Ms Wyatt’s application for financial relief was to proceed.
The case was then timetabled for a Financial Dispute resolution hearing in October 2015. No settlement was reached until March 2016 whereby it was agreed between the parties’ that Ms Wyatt would receive £300,000 lump sum and retain the payments of £200,000 and £125,000 towards her legal costs.
This case re-enforces that there is no time limit for bringing an application for financial provision upon divorce, unless you have re-married. If Ms Wyatt had re-married she would never have been able to pursue her claim in this regards against Mr Vince. It is important for you to understand the importance of resolving financial claims at the time of divorce and where possible to obtain a clean break. For Ms Wyatt it seems to have worked in her favour as she would never have obtained the settlement she did now in the mid 80’s. For both parties, however, it has been an expensive lesson.
At Slater Heelis we have a team of specialist family solicitors who will be able to guide you through difficult situations that may arise at the time of separation.