In the recent case of Wyatt v Vince, Miss Wyatt married Mr Vince in 1981 and they had one son together, with Mr Vince also treating Miss Wyatt's daughter from a previous relationship as his own. In 1984 the parties and Mr Vince pursued a "new-age travelling" lifestyle for 8 years with the parties divorcing in 1992. During this period, Mr Vince was unable to Unfortunatley the court file in relation to the divorce was mislaid therefore there is no evidence that financial claims were dismissed.
In the late 1990's Mr Vince's green energy company took off making him a multi millionaire, with Miss Wyatt's financial situation remaining very modest
In 2011, Miss Wyatt made a financial application to the court in the form of a lump sum, during this application she also applied for interim payments to fund her legal costs. At the same time, Mr Vince applied for the application to be struck out.
In December 2012 the High Court Judge dismissed Mr Vince's strike out application and ordered him to make interim periodical payments in respect of legal costs to Miss Wyatt's solicitors
Mr Vince, unhappy with the decision appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Appeal Judge, struck out Miss Wyatt's original application for financial provision and ordered her to repay part of the money already recieved.
Miss Wyatt now, appealed to the Supreme Court, with her appeal being unanimously successful and the matter being returned back to the High Court to be considered and the "cost allowance order" being restored.
On examing the Family Procedure Rules, the court position is that a strike out application would only be permitted if the applicant was not legally entitled to make the application eg. Miss Wyatt has signed a consent or or had remarried. In Miss Wyatt's case this was not applicable therefore her original application should not have been struck out. The court under section 25 (1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 has a duty to to determine an application having regard to all the circumstances.
Having set out the above, Lord Wilson of the Supreme Court did set out that Miss Wyatt facing formidable difficulties in seeking to establish that a financial order should be made in her favour due to:
a) Short duration of their marriage
b) Long delay in making the application.
However at section 25 (2) (f) of the Act, it obliges the court to have regard to "the contributions which each party has made..... to the welfare of the family, including contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family".
It is likely that Miss Wyatt will be relying on her much greater contribution to the upbringing of the couples children over many years.
Given the above, it shows the importance of dealing with all financial matters at the time of your divorce to avoid application being made in years to come hen you may be more financially secure
If you require any advise and assistance in relation to divorce and financial matters, please do not hesitate to contact Louise Neville in our matrimonial department on 01254 872272