UK Supreme Court Clears Way For Marital Claim 30 Years After Divorce

The Supreme Court in the United Kingdom has authorized a woman divorced 30 years ago to seek a financial settlement from her Ex. Here’s the story about it in the GuardianThe woman, Kathleen Wyatt, brought up the couple’s son and has few assets. Her ex-husband Dale Vince, whom the article describes as a “one-time new age traveller,” later founded a successful green energy company and is now worth about $85 million.

The court said that Wyatt may be able to rely for her claim on much greater contributioen to the upbringing of the couple’s children over many years, a factor which could justify a financial order for “a comparatively modest sum.” The judge announcing the decision indicated that Wyatt’s claim of $2.8 million is “out of the question,” but the ruling doesn’t speculate further about what amount would be appropriate.

Vince said this about the ruling:

I’m disappointed that the supreme court has decided not to bring this case to an end now, over 30 years since the relationship ended.

We both moved on and started families of our own. For my part the passing of time is extremely prejudicial, it’s been so long that there are no records, no court has kept anything, and it’s hard to defend yourself in such circumstances – indeed the delay itself has enabled the claim, because there is no paperwork in existence.

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.

In this case there are no joint assets, the separation was 30 years ago, and there’s no incentive to be sensible on costs – because I’m paying both sides. It’s one thing to face a reckless claim, but another entirely to have to fund it to court.

Wyatt’s success apparently depends on the lack of a definitive financial order accompanying her divorce. Her claim would not succeed in most states in the US, where the lack of a financial division is generally interpreted as a ruling in favor of the status quo – “He keeps his, she keeps hers.”

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