Supreme Court Judgment – Wife allowed to make a claim against her millionaire ex-husband 20 years after divorce.

A woman has won a landmark Supreme Court bid to claim cash from her millionaire ex-husband, 20 years after they divorced.

Kathleen Wyatt, 55, first took legal action against Dale Vince, 53, who set up his company, Ecotricity, in 1995 after the pair had split. He is now estimated to be worth £107million.

Mr Vince had previously appealed against his ex-wife on the basis she had lodged the claim too late.

But five Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled Ms Wyatt's case should go before the family court.

Delivering the ruling, Lord Wilson said the court must have regard "to the contribution of each party to the welfare of the family, including by looking after the home or caring for the family".

Mr Vince and Ms Wyatt met as students in their early 20s and married in 1981. The pair had a son together, and lived a New Age traveller lifestyle before their divorce, the court heard.
Lord Wilson said Ms Wyatt had raised her son through "16 years of real hardship".

Her claim was "legally recognisable" and not an "abuse of process", he said, although the £1.9m pay out she had hoped to secure was too high an amount.
This underlines the fact that there is no time limit for ex-spouses to apply to a court for a financial settlement following a divorce - however weak their claim may be.

The judgment is also a timely reminder that divorcing couples who want protection from such claims, even if they have no money at all, should obtain an order from the court at the time of the divorce, in which they both agree that there will be no further financial claims.
That is the only way to guarantee that, if one of them goes on to make a fortune, they get to keep it. A woman has won a landmark Supreme Court bid to claim cash from her millionaire ex-husband, 20 years after they divorced.

Kathleen Wyatt, 55, first took legal action against Dale Vince, 53, who set up his company, Ecotricity, in 1995 after the pair had split. He is now estimated to be worth £107million.

Mr Vince had previously appealed against his ex-wife on the basis she had lodged the claim too late.

But five Supreme Court justices unanimously ruled Ms Wyatt's case should go before the family court.

Delivering the ruling, Lord Wilson said the court must have regard "to the contribution of each party to the welfare of the family, including by looking after the home or caring for the family".

Mr Vince and Ms Wyatt met as students in their early 20s and married in 1981. The pair had a son together, and lived a New Age traveller lifestyle before their divorce, the court heard.

Lord Wilson said Ms Wyatt had raised her son through "16 years of real hardship".

Her claim was "legally recognisable" and not an "abuse of process", he said, although the £1.9m pay out she had hoped to secure was too high an amount.

This underlines the fact that there is no time limit for ex-spouses to apply to a court for a financial settlement following a divorce - however weak their claim may be.

The judgment is also a timely reminder that divorcing couples who want protection from such claims, even if they have no money at all, should obtain an order from the court at the time of the divorce, in which they both agree that there will be no further financial claims.

That is the only way to guarantee that, if one of them goes on to make a fortune, they get to keep it.

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