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Financial claims after a long period of separation

Posted on 31st March 2015 by Goodwins Family Law Solicitors

A recent Supreme Court decision has emphasised that unlike practically every other area of law, that there is no statute of limitations principle applying to financial claims after a divorce.  In other words, unless a Court has formally dismissed a spouse’s financial claims then their ability to make a later financial claim against their former spouse remain outstanding indefinitely.

 

This case of Wyatt has been well publicised in the newspapers, where a former ‘new age’ couple living an alternative lifestyle and with no income or assets separated and divorced but did not take steps to dismiss their financial claims.  Many years later, the husband created a very successful solar energy business and he accumulated very substantial wealth as a result.  Over 20 years later, the former wife, whose fortunes had not prospered made a financial claim against her former husband.

 

The lower Court initially sought to “strike out” the application because of the delay that had taken place between the divorce and the financial claim.  However, the Supreme Court rejected that decision and has said that the wife may make a financial claim, albeit that they felt it very unlikely indeed that the wife would get the £1,900,000 she sought to recover from her very unhappy ex.


As a specialist firm, at Goodwins Family Law we always advise our clients that even if at the time a divorce takes place that the family assets are moderate, that if steps are not taken to have their spouses respective financial claims dismissed by the Court, that there is always the risk of a subsequent claim being made, perhaps, as here, many decades later. Even when it seems unlikely at the time of divorce that there may later be substantial assets, nobody has a crystal ball to predict the future and a substantial lottery win. For example, could always provide the basis for one spouse’s wealth unexpectedly increasing to a remarkable figure and justifying a claim from their former spouse.

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