Supreme Court decision highlights the need to consider financial settlements when separating or divorcing

Thursday, 12th March 2015

Deciding to end a relationship is hard. Deciding to end a marriage is even harder. It may have taken you a long time to make the move. Having decided to divorce, you will want things to be sorted out and to separate your lives with the minimum of pain and expense. 

In the rush to separate your households, to make arrangements for your children and to divide your possessions, you may have little energy left to turn your financial arrangements into a legally binding settlement. You may be too exhausted to think about it and believe there's little point. If you've resolved the practicalities between you and you've done your divorce papers yourselves, why do you need to a court order to finalise your finances?

The answer has been provided clearly by the Supreme Court this week in the widely reported case of Wyatt v Vince. Ms Wyatt and Mr Vince were married in 1984 and divorced in 1992. They had few assets at the time and so they didn't ask the court to finalise their financial settlement in a court order when they divorced.

In the years since their divorce, Mr Vince's fortunes have improved dramatically. This week, despite the couple having been divorced for 23 years, the Supreme Court has ruled that Ms Wyatt can now bring a claim against Mr Vince for a financial settlement arising from their marriage.

Whilst the extent of what Ms Wyatt can claim has yet to be decided, the couple have already spent a significant sum on legal fees and will face further costs to resolve the matter now. This could have been avoided if they had asked the court for an order, by consent, to have a financial clean break from one another in 1992.

So, if you are considering separating or divorcing, it is well worth seeking advice from a Solicitor now as to how best to divide your finances and how to secure your position for the future.

At Ashfords, we have many years' experience in helping clients to resolve their financial settlements and to give them peace of mind for the future. So, don't delay, see a Solicitor today.