No time limits on claims after divorce

by Kevin Double

A recent case heard in the Supreme Court, saw a woman win the right to seek money from her ex-husband, 30 years after they separated.

Kathleen Wyatt can now seek payments from former husband Dale Vince, a one-time new age traveller, who founded and runs the green energy company Ecotricity and is now a multimillionaire businessman.

This is a case which highlights the importance of ensuring that all financial matters are finalised at the time of divorce. Many divorcing couples are under the misapprehension that when the divorce is finalised, everything is resolved and all claims are automatically brought to an end. Unfortunately, that is not the case and in the absence of what is known as a clean break order made by the Court within the divorce proceedings, there is no bar on divorcing couples or civil partners making applications for financial support after divorce or dissolution.

If your marriage or civil partnership breaks down, there are legal formalities that have to be dealt with in order to end that relationship. A marriage can end in divorce or it can be annulled and equally, a civil partnership  can be dissolved or annulled.

Whilst there are strict reasons for nullity, this can be applied for at any time after the marriage or civil partnership. At Palmers, we can advise you on whether your circumstances are suitable for a nullity, but it is important to remember that having the marriage or civil partnership annulled can have an impact on your status in the future and on financial claims.

A divorce or dissolution can only be applied for more than one year after the ceremony. To initiate divorce proceedings, the marriage or civil partnership must have irretrievably broken down and this can be proved by a number of facts. In divorce proceedings these can be:

  • unreasonable behaviour
  • adultery
  • a period of separation in excess of two  years if both parties agree
  • a period of desertion for two years
  • a period of separation in excess of five years, whether the other party objects or not

The points listed above can also be used to dissolve a civil partnership, except in the case of adultery, where infidelity would be cited as unreasonable behaviour.

If you have any questions about divorce or any of the topics raised here, please contact our team of family lawyers on 01245 322111.