Divorce in the news
One of the higher profile divorce cases to hit the news in recent weeks was the case of Wyatt v Vince in the Supreme Court. After a short marriage, Ms Wyatt had been divorced from Mr Vince way back in the 1990s, and Mr Vince had gone on to become a multi-millionaire. Ms Wyatt was seeking a financial settlement from Mr Vince, having brought their son up alone and with no financial support from his father. The Supreme Court overturned an earlier decision saying that she had no right to make the claim, and the matter will progress in the lower courts to establish, what, if anything, she is entitled to.
Anyone who has received legal advice on the breakdown of a marriage, is most likely to have been told that in order to fully end the marriage financially, it is necessary to have a court order. The fact is that simply ending a marriage legally, in divorce, does not end the financial claims between the parties. So long as a party does not enter into a new marriage, they remain able to claim against their former spouse. The case of Wyatt v Vince shows us that there is no automatic time limit beyond which claims are ended, this shows the importance of the advice I give on a daily basis, you must ask the Court to end your financial claims.
Often couples feel that they have no financial assets to speak of, maybe the relationship was short, they did not own any property, there was nothing to argue about. What this case shows, is that it is not just your current wealth that needs protecting, it is your future assets.
Accordingly, every separating couple should give consideration to entering into a written financial agreement, closing their financial claims. The document does not have to be particularly complicated, but we do strongly recommend it be drawn up by a solicitor, with both parties having the opportunity to obtain independent legal advice. Once the divorce has reached Decree Nisi stage, the agreement can be sent to the Court for the Judge’s approval. Neither party need actually attend Court, and the Judge just requires some basic financial information to have some context in which to set the agreement.
This will serve to protect your future wealth from a former spouse and ensure that when this marriage ends in divorce, there is no financial hangover.
Julie Hobson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org