This article was published on June 20th, 2016
An ex-wife who had been divorced for more than 20 years has successfully been awarded an £300,000. The self-made millionaire has called for changes to the law which currently has no time limit on reviewing divorce settlements, unlike civil courts which impose a six-year cut-off date for new lawsuits.
The couple were married in 1981 and at the time were travellers living on state benefits. They had a child together and then separated in 1984 and finally divorcing in 1992.
At the time of the divorce, neither party felt they had any assets to divide as both were still either working ‘hand to mouth’ or travelling the world and so no financial settlement was made or recorded in court.
The ex-husband then started a green energy business which became extremely profitable and resulted in him becoming a successful business man and millionaire. In 2011, the ex-wife returned to the courts in 2011 claiming £1.9m for a financial settlement against her former husband. The Supreme Court ruled that she could pursue her financial claim and the case was sent to the High Court.
The woman received an out of court settlement of £300,000, some of which will go towards her legal costs. She currently lives in a former council house and will use the settlement to improve her living accommodation.
This is an unusual case which is why it has taken so long to go through the court process. Many people have been watching with interest due to the length of the period of divorced and the huge difference in living standards between the two parties. There may be, as a result of this case, more claims pursued from parties who have experienced similar situations but there are not expected to be many. It does set a precedent that financial settlement claims can be made by former spouses in the family courts whereby the divorces are decades old.
The ex husband said: “I’m disappointed that the Supreme Court decided not to throw out the case, given it was brought over 30 years since the relationship ended. We’d both moved on and started families of our own . . . There clearly needs to be a statute of limitations for divorce cases — a time limit beyond which a claim cannot be made. Such a thing exists in commercial law for good practical reasons.”
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