Former wife making financial claims years after divorcing her ex

    Former wife making financial claims years after divorcing her ex

    The Supreme Court is dealing with an appeal that could have far reaching consequences for people who divorced decades ago but did not deal with financial claims at the time. If the wife’s claims are successful it could have far reaching consequences for parties who separated or divorced years ago when there was little or no wealth to share at the time and subsequently one of the parties becomes wealthy.

    The parties married in 1981. The date of separation is disputed with the husband saying 1984 and the wife saying it was some years later. The divorce was made Absolute in 1992. Both parties were penniless new age travellers living on benefits at the time of the divorce.

    In 1995 the husband launched a business which became very successful and he is now a millionaire. The wife is now seeking a financial settlement to buy a house and for life-long maintenance. The husband is seeking that her claim be struck out.

    The wife claims that, despite her best efforts, she was unable to pursue her claims for financial relief until 2010. The wife remained the primary carer for the parties’ child, born in 1981, and for her child from a previous relationship who was accepted as a child of the family by the husband. She claims to have received no financial support from the husband since their separation.

    Last year the Court of Appeal struck out the wife’s claims but the case is now before the Supreme Court. If the wife’s appeal is successful it will lead to a full hearing before a family judge who will decide whether any financial settlement is due. The wife is able to make the claim because unlike in the civil courts, there is no time limit for a former spouse to bring a financial lawsuit.

    It is possible for the Court to make an Order dismissing any potential claims which either party may have against the other. Such Orders are called Clean Break Orders. It is worth considering such an Order even if you and your spouse have no assets or income at the time of the divorce to avoid the possibility of a claim being made at a later date. For more information, help or advice, please contact our Family team.

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