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Love Hurts

You can now sue your ex-spouse DECADES after the divorce

In the UK that is. Useful if your ex becomes rich

shutterstock_222872995 Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov Shutterstock / Andrey_Popov / Andrey_Popov

A DIVORCED MOTHER of four has won a landmark family law ruling in the UK.

The ruling, handed down today by the UK Supreme Court, guarantees a divorced person the right to sue their ex-partner for earnings after the fact, regardless of the length of time since the split.

55-year-old Kathleen Wyatt initially took the case against her ex-husband Dale Vince, 53, in 2011.

Dale Vince divorce case Kathleen Wyatt PA Wire / Press Association Images PA Wire / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

The pair have been divorced since 1992, although they broke up in 1984.  Vince subsequently set up green-energy firm Ecotricity in 1995 and became a millionaire.

He is currently worth in the region of €152 million.

The ruling doesn’t mean that Wyatt has won her case (she is suing Vince for ‘financial remedy’ worth €2.7 million), merely that she is entitled to contest it.  The case will now continue in the UK’s High Court.

In other instances such as contract law or personal injury claims there is a definite time limit.  Until today there was no such specification for divorce claims.

“This is definitely a judgement that will be referenced in the future in other cases where an individual becomes rich in the years after they divorce,” senior lawyer and family-law expert Marilyn Stowe of Stowe Family Law Solicitors told Reuters.

Dale Vince Dale Vince PA / Adrian Sherratt PA / Adrian Sherratt / Adrian Sherratt

The only way to prevent this from happening is for a divorcing couple to obtain an order from the court at the time of the divorce, in which they both agree that there will be no further financial claims.

In response to the ruling Vince argued in a statement that the decision was ‘mad’ and ‘extremely prejudicial’.

I feel that we all have a right to move on, and not be looking over our shoulders.
This could signal open season for people who had brief relationships a quarter of a century ago.

Outside court Wyatt’s lawyer Barbara Reeves said her client had been through ‘a very difficult time’.

She looks forward to concluding the litigation as quickly as possible.

Wyatt and Vince initially met as students in 1981, had a son, and lived together as New Age Travellers.

Wyatt and her children have spent most of the intervening 30 years living off social welfare or low-paying employment.

Vince led an itinerant lifestyle until he began to experiment with green energy in the early nineties when he built a wind turbine to power a caravan he owned from recycled materials.

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