Many people think that when your divorce is finalised your ex-spouse cannot claim any money from you in the future. Wrong!
Divorce merely ends your marriage. It does not sever your financial ties and your ex-spouse can seek a share of your assets, even after you have re-married.
Mr Vince found this out the hard way in a recent case. Mr Vince and Miss Wyatt were married in 1981, separated 3 years later and finally divorced in 1992. At the time of the wedding, neither had any money and at the time of the divorce Miss Wyatt was on benefits and Mr Vince was living in an old ambulance.
Mr Vince went on to develop a small wind turbine to provide power to his mobile home and eventually established a company worth £107 million – Ecotricity. Miss Wyatt saw an opportunity and made an application for financial support. Mr Vince tried to defend the claim on the basis that the marriage was very short; neither had any money at the time of separation and that they had been separated for more than 20 years. The Court of Appeal agreed with Mr Vince.
Miss Wyatt appealed to the Supreme Court and succeeded. She is unlikely to receive a large share of Mr Vince’s fortune, but it is thought she is will receive enough to re-house herself. Mr Vince was also ordered to pay her legal fees.
Can this be avoided?
Yes, it can. As part of the divorce procedure (or even after the divorce has been finalised), a financial settlement can be agreed, signed and sealed by the Court. The document is known as a Consent Order. It should contain a Clean Break, which would protect both sides from any future claim both during their lifetimes and against their estate when they die.
Getting re-married does not stop your ex-spouse from making a claim, but if you re-marry your chance to claim is extinguished.
The moral to this story? Seek advice from a Family Solicitor