The Supreme Court has allowed the former wife’s appeal in Wyatt v Vince  UKSC 15.
Ms Kathleen Wyatt had made a financial application 18 years after she divorced from her husband, Mr Vince. The Court of Appeal had originally allowed Mr Vince’s appeal in relation to his application to strike out her financial claim.
Lord Wilson in the Supreme Court said the omission from the Family Procedure Rules of a power to grant summary judgment was deliberate. ‘Ms Wyatt’s claim should proceed to a short hearing,’ he added.
This decision means that there is no time limit for ex-spouses to apply to a family court for a financial settlement following a divorce however weak their claim may be. By comparison in other areas of law, such as personal injury.
One of the factors Lord Wilson said was relevant was ‘the contribution of each party to the welfare of the family, including looking after the home or caring for the family”.
Her financial claim on divorce was therefore ‘legally recognisable’ but Lord Wilson commented that the pitching of Ms Wyatt’s claim at £1.9 million was ill-advised and acknowledged that it might be dismissed but envisaged that she might receive a modest award. Mr Wyatt is now worth an estimated £107m.
This is a timely reminder to divorcing couples who want protection from financial claims (even if they have no money at the time) that they should obtain an order from the court at the time of the divorce to agree that they will be no future financial claims.