That Ship Has Sailed: Leaving a financial claim too late

Since the well-publicised case of Vince v Wyatt in 2015, it has been in the public knowledge that long-divorced spouses can claim financially against one another years, even decades, after their marriage was dissolved. However, the Courts are demonstrating a cautious approach to these ‘historical divorce’ cases.

The recent Family Court decision in Waudby v Aldhouse concerned a wife’s claim for a financial remedy from her ex-husband, whom she divorced in 1995 without sorting out the finances of their marriage. After her divorce, the wife had enjoyed career success and relative prosperity for a period of years before falling on harder times, which led to her application in 2014.

In the first hearing, the wife was awarded a lump sum of £10,000 and maintenance payments worth over £7,000 per year. However, the appeal judge overturned this decision, on the basis that too long had passed, that the needs she was now struggling with were not caused by her marriage to her long-divorced husband, and that it would not be fair to cause him to pay money to her after such a long time.

The case underlines the importance of showing that the needs which a party is claiming against their spouse for must be ‘relationship generated’ and directly linked to the dissolved marriage.

The handling of a financial remedy case years after divorce is a particularly complex and sensitive aspect of family law that is relatively untested ground, even to the judges themselves. At Blaser Mills, we will be able to assist and advise you in considering or defending an application for a financial remedy from a historical divorce, ensuring that you are effectively represented throughout the entire process.

If you would like to speak to our family and divorce team surrounding any of the matters highlighted in the article, or for any other issues related to Family & Divorce, please contact Jolene Hutchison, Partner and Head of Family and Divorce, on 01494 478603 or email jfh@blasermills.co.uk