Where Does The Buck Stop With Divorce?


You'd think that in a divorce, unless you have children - that would be the end of the financial ties with your now ex-spouse?

Unfortunately, this may not be true. A landmark case to be brought in front of the UK Supreme Court may soon say otherwise.


Making Money After A Divorce

After 22 years of divorce, Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, has received a financial claim from his ex-wife. Despite being split for over 2 decades she is seeking to make a claim against the company he created 3 years after their divorce.

Unlike in the civil court, family law cases have no time limit for an ex-spouse to bring a claim so she is within the law to do so. The outcome of this case could have a huge impact on divorced entrepreneurs if they made their millions post-divorce.

Dale and Kathleen Wyatt married in 1981 when they were both poor new age travellers living on state benefits. Neither of them was wealthy or had any significant amount of money. They had a child but their marriage was short lived and they separated before getting a divorce in 1992.

After the split in 1995, Mr Vince set up his renewable energy company after constructing a small wind turbine to generate electricity for his caravan out of recycled materials. His company is now worth an estimated £90 million. In 2011, Ms Wyatt brought her legal claim to buy a house and to acquire life- long maintenance nearly 10 years after their divorce.

Entrepreneurs Beware?

To the outside world, it may seem insane that after nearly a decade after their split, she could bring such a claim. The Court of Appeal ruled for her case to be struck out last year but her lawyers argued that the case should be heard by the highest court in the UK, the Supreme Court. If successful, the case will lead to a full hearing in which a family judge will decide if any financial settlement is due to Ms Wyatt.

It's not uncommon to find entrepreneurs who have made their millions after a divorce in which no financial claims were previously brought. When people marry and split young, there's often not any wealth to separate, as was the case here. Understandably, when this judgement is released, it will have huge ramifications for people in similar circumstances.

Getting your divorce right in the first instance or coming to an agreement that blocks these kinds of challenges in the future could be highly beneficial.

As for now, the Supreme Court has quite a job on their hands dealing with this case to ensure the outcome is fair to the people involved and others who may be put in the same position in the future.

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