“Clean Break” – the words that you should think of when divorcing – and most people do. However many clients when advised that Divorce does not end future financial claims reply that they have nothing anyway so there is no point having a Clean Break order!!! How many will now be worrying about possible claims following yesterday’s landmark decision in the Supreme Court – the case of Wyatt v Vince.
Kathleen Wyatt and her husband divorced 20 years ago and had been separated for 10 years prior to that. At the time they lived as New Age Travellers and had no assets so neither considered that they required a Clean Break Order. 13 years after the separation Mr Wyatt set up his now successful business earning £100 million since that date. Ms Wyatt in the alternative has lived on traveller sites and lived largely on benefits, bringing up 4 children, only 1 of who was to Mr Vince. In fact the parties’ son moved in with His Father in 2001.
Ms Wyatt was awarded £125,000 by a Judge in 2012. This was challenged by Mr Vince and the Appeal Court struck this out. In yesterday’s decision the Supreme Court ruled that Ms Wyatt’s claim must be heard by a judge in the Family Division of the High Court. Ms Wyatt is claiming £2million.
This decision does not mean that Ms Wyatt will be ordered a settlement. In fact Lord Wilson has confirmed that the amount claimed by Ms Wyatt “is out of the question”. It does mean however that her claim will be heard and it is therefore possible that she will receive a settlement some 30 years after separation.
The decision confirms that without a Clean Break Order after divorce claims can be made at any point, whether that is after 6 or 60 years. How successful such claims will be is another matter – BUT WHY RISK IT!
Do not leave possible claims hanging in the air – seek advice now! Come and visit one of our Family specialists and tie up the loose ends. Who knows, you could win the lottery tomorrow – will your former wife or husband want to then receive a share of it? The risk is there – remove the risk now!
Date: 12 March 2015