Settlement-Claim

A woman, who applied for a financial settlement claim of £1.9 million 20 years after her divorce, has instead been granted £300,000 by the High Court, according to the BBC website.

Kathleen Wyatt married Dale Vince in 1981. At that time, both were living a New Age traveller lifestyle with little income. It wasn’t until shortly after they divorced in 1992, that Mr Vince’s business career began to take off and he remarried.

“Ecotricity”, Mr Vince’s eco energy company grew rapidly over the next two decades and is now estimated to be worth in the region of £57 million.

Five years ago, Ms Wyatt, who it is now claimed is in poor health, decided to claim for “financial remedy”, 19 years after she and Mr Vince divorced. Her application was initially granted but then blocked by appeal judges, the following year. The legal battle continued however, with Ms Wyatt seeking a financial settlement of £1.9 million from her former husband.

Hearing the case in the High Court, Mr Justice Cobb stated that Ms Wyatt’s initial claim was “out of the question”, although he did agree that she should receive a financial settlement from her marriage. In the end, he decreed that she should receive £300,000 although legal fees are yet to be deducted from this amount.

This unusual case, which received a great deal of media attention, is certainly of interest to divorce lawyers. The ability of some spouses, in certain circumstances, to claim for a financial settlement years after the divorce has taken place may prove to be an attractive proposition, particularly where the husband has gone on to substantially improve his financial standing.

Mr Vince is understandably frustrated at the decision made by Mr Justice Cobb, saying: “I feel that we all have a right to move on and not be looking over our shoulders. This could signal open season for people who had brief relationships a quarter of a century ago…it’s mad in my opinion”.

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