Clean Break Anyone?

Many clients come to see me and immediately tell me that they want a “straightforward divorce” and they will deal with the finances with their ex at a later stage.

While I appreciate I have a vested interest in saying that a final financial order is very important, it is also true.  If you do not settle your finances and obtain a final order at the time of the divorce you are leaving the door open for a financial claim at any point in the future.

I would urge you to check out the case of  Wyatt v Vince [2015] UKSC 14. In that case the Supreme Court decided that Mrs Wyatt was allowed to proceed with a financial claim many years after the decree absolute was granted finalizing the divorce. The financial claim was settled earlier this year when it was agreed Mrs Wyatt would receive a lump sum of £300,00. Wyatt v Vince [2016] EWHC 1368 (Fam)

The background is that at the time of the divorce a financial order was not made and the parties had no assets.  However, many years later Mr Vince became a very successful multi-millionaire businessman.  Mrs Wyatt issued a financial claim and Mr Vince asked the High Court for the claim to be dismissed given the length of time and in effect arguing she did not have a case. The High Court Judge directed the financial claim was allowed to proceed and so Mr Vince appealed.  At the Court of Appeal his appeal was allowed and the claim was dismissed so Mrs Wyatt appealed to the Supreme Court who allowed the appeal enabling the financial claim to continue.  As stated above, the claim has finally been settled but after many years and significant legal costs to cover the appeals and cross-appeals.

When divorcing settling your financial commitment to each other is a priority even if your finances are not in joint names and even if you do not have any assets at all and you simply wish a clean break.  If you do not obtain a financial Court order at the time you may find yourself looking over your shoulder in the months and years that follow.