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Vince v Wyatt – the importance of having a financial consent order in place post divorce

14-06-2016

The case of Vince v Wyatt case has finally come to a close. This case has been in the press and it is likely that you have a read about it, even if you don’t recall the name.

It is about a couple who separated in the mid-1980s, they had one son together. At the time they split up there wasn’t any money. They subsequently divorced in 1992.  A couple of years after their divorce finalised Mr Vince started his own company, known as Ecotricity, a green energy company. This company took off and now has an estimated market value of £57 million. Mr Vince made this remarkable financial success after the end of the marriage and without any support or contribution from his former wife.

During the time that Mr Vince founded and grew Ecotricity, Mrs Wyatt had many different low paid jobs and lived on and off state benefits. In 2011, Mrs Wyatt made a financial remedy claim against Mr Vince.

An added dimension to this case was that the original court file was mislaid which meant that it was unknown whether a financial consent order was made. It was decided that the financial claims between the couple had not been dealt with at the time of the original order so the court could consider Mrs Wyatt’s claims.

Mrs Wyatt’s original claim was for £1.9 million of Mr Vince’s assets. Since then the case has gone through the entire court system. Mr Vince made an application to strike out Mrs Wyatt’s financial remedy claims, which was successful in the Court of Appeal. But in March 2015 the Supreme Court rejected the strike out on the basis that Mrs Wyatt’s application was “legally recognizable and not an abuse of process”. The Supreme Court ruled that the case should be sent back to the lower court for determination. The final ruling was given on 10 June 2016. The order was for Mr Vince to pay Mrs Wyatt a lump sum of £300,000.00. The high court family judge, Mr Justice Cobb said it represented “a realistic and balanced appraisal of the unusual circumstances of this case”.

So what does this mean for you, if you are going through a divorce or contemplating divorce? Lots of people now undertake the divorce process on their own, so if you do your own divorce what should you do?

The very important lesson to take away from it is that in every case, regardless of the assets involved, a financial consent order, sealed by the court, should be in place after the divorce. This will ensure that you are both protected and mean there will be no threat of a former spouse bringing a future claim against you in the future.

You can read the full ruling by clicking here

To find out more about any family matters or to book an appointment, contact the family team on 01635 508080 or email [email protected]


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