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Wyatt divorce case could spark rise in settlement claims

A legal expert is highlighting the importance of ensuring proper financial agreements are in place at the point of divorce.

The advice follows the high profile case of Kathleen Wyatt who recently won a landmark ruling to proceed with a claim against her ex-husband Dale Vince, almost 25 years after their divorce was granted and more than 30 years after their initial separation.

Helen Lucking, partner in the Family team at Lancashire law firm Napthens, says people need to be aware that legal documents, such as an order in full and final settlement, must be put in place in order to protect themselves from a similar situation.

Mr Vince built up a multi-million pound fortune through his green energy company Ecotricity which he founded in 1995.

The couple separated after two years of marriage in 1983 and were divorced in 1992, with both parties going on to re-marry. However a judge has now permitted Mrs Wyatt to go to court to attempt to claim a sum of £1.9m from her ex-husband.

Helen said: “The couples’ marriage was dissolved, but because there was no proper financial settlement in place at the time, Mr Vince’s assets have ultimately been left at risk. This is despite the fact that a long period of time has passed since the marriage ended.

“It’s also important to remember that in general litigation, there are imposed time limits which restrict when a claim can be filed. But in family law, there is no such time limit.

“This case is a strong lesson to people that unless financial matters are dealt with correctly at the point of divorce, a settlement claim could be filed at any point. Therefore you must seek legal guidance and make sure that following a divorce, certain documents relating to finance are promptly put in place at the time.”

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