Mr Justice Cobb has approved a financial settlement reached by the parties in a long-running financial dispute brought by the wife 19 years after decree absolute. The wife, Kathleen Wyatt, issued a financial remedies claim against her husband, Mr Vince, after they had been divorced for 19 years. During that time, the ex-husband had become very wealthy as a successful business man and owned a company which had an estimated value of £57 million.
The husband's attempt to strike out the wife's claim failed at first instance but succeeded in the Court of Appeal. However, that judgment was overturned by the Supreme Court who unanimously allowed the wife's appeal against the strike out of her claim and directed that the wife's application proceed in the Family Division of the High Court. In a judgment dated 10 June 2016, Mr Justice Cobb confirmed that the final order settling the proceedings should be made public.
The consent order agreed between the parties provides for the husband to pay a lump sum of £300,000 to the wife in full and final settlement of her claims and that the wife should retain a payment on account of £200,000 paid to her by the husband towards the costs of the Supreme Court appeal (in addition to the December 2012 award of £125,000 towards her costs). The parties are prohibited from disclosing the total costs involved.
This case serves as a reminder that the parties’ financial claims will continue even after divorce unless and until they are tied up in a sealed consent order or determined by the court. The court must ultimately approve any agreements reached about the finances on divorce for the agreement to be binding.
It is therefore vitally important to resolve financial matters at the time of the divorce to prevent a spouse coming back in several years’ time to seek further financial provision against the other.