It has been reported in the news this week, that the Supreme Court has allowed the appeal by a former wife to enable her to bring a claim for a financial remedy 20 years after the parties divorced. Lord Wilson said in his judgment that “the omission from the Family Procedure Rules of a power to grant summary judgment was deliberate” and therefore the draconian power to strike out a case in family proceedings does not exist.
This judgment does not automatically open the door to all prospective claimants but does emphasise the power of the Court to consider each application on a case by case basis, irrespective of the length of time which may have passed. The point is that Mrs Wyatt is entitled to have her claims considered by the Court, and it does not necessarily follow that she will receive anything. The judgment also makes it clear that any award which she might be entitled to is likely to be “modest”.
The case underlines the important point that unless parties obtain a financial order at the time of divorce, then claims may be pursued many years later. Had Mr Vince pursued a financial order at the time, given the fact that there were no assets of the marriage; it is likely that there would have been a clean break which would have made it impossible for Mrs Wyatt to come back and claim anything now.