The former wife of a multi-millionaire is to be allowed to make a claim for a share of the fortune amassed by her ex-husband 30 years after they parted.
Kathleen Wyatt has been granted permission by the Supreme Court to lodge a belated claim against her former husband, Dale Vince, who founded a green energy business in the 1990’s that’s now worth an estimated £57m.
The couple met and married in 1981 and had a child in 1983, but separated just one year later. The wife became a full time single parent with little income, and had little contact with her ex-husband.
“More people are thinking about pre or post nuptial agreements, following media coverage of high profile cases"
Although there is no time limit in the UK within which a spouse must seek an order for financial provision following a divorce, in 2011 an application by Mr Vince’s ex-wife was dismissed by the Court of Appeal. The application was then taken to the Supreme Court to decide whether due consideration had been given to section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973.
Having given Ms Wyatt permission to apply, the trial judge will decide whether any financial order is made when the case is heard in court.
When it is heard, the wife could argue that she cared for the child leaving her ex-husband free to succeed in his business.
Fiona Apthorpe, A Partner in Geldards’ specialist family law team explained: “It is certainly unusual to hear of a claim being made after all this time but without a consent order in place, the opportunity remains open.
“More people are thinking about pre or post nuptial agreements, following media coverage of high profile cases where these have been involved, such as German heiress Katrin Radmacher. Certainly they are a sensible option for anyone getting married, but they are for use at the start of the relationship to set out what you wish to have happen if things go wrong.
“They are not legally binding in the UK, but will be a persuasive factor if both parties received independent legal advice at the time.
“What’s involved here is the way in which a divorce is finalised. Once you’ve reached agreement, you can get the court to make it legally binding, by applying for what is known as a consent order and that’s what was missing in this case.”
A consent order confirms what has been agreed and can include details on how assets will be divided, including cash, property, pension funds and other investments, and can also include arrangements for maintenance payments, including child maintenance.
Both parties have to agree and sign the draft consent order and a judge will consider the terms to see if they appear fair and reasonable, and if so will approve the agreement to make it legally binding.
FAMILY>> SEPARATION, DIVORCE & FAMILY BREAKDOWN>>