Contrary to popular belief, getting divorced (i.e. obtaining decree absolute) does not automatically dismiss the financial claims that you have against each other. If you would like financial certainty then I recommend you deal with these financial claims at the same time as the divorce.
Recently, the Supreme Court permitted an ex-wife (Kathleen Wyatt) to make a financial claim against her ex-husband (Dale Vince) 23 years after they got divorced. The High Court approved a financial settlement order in which Mr Vince agreed to pay Ms Wyatt a lump sum of £300,000 in full and final settlement of their divorce (some 32 years after they separated!) Some have described this as a ‘modest’ lump sum award for Ms Wyatt. The High Court judge Mr Justice Cobb commented “I am perfectly satisfied that it is reasonable, and that the wife is entitled to receive a modest capital award following the breakdown of this marriage…The lump sum payment agreed between the parties fairly represents, in my view, a realistic and balanced appraisal of the unusual circumstances of this case.”
Ms Wyatt and Mr Vince married in 1981 and they had a son together. The parties separated in 1984. Ms Wyatt raised the children whilst Mr Vince pursued a new-age travelling lifestyle. Mr Vince was not in a financial position to make a substantial contribution to Ms Wyatt’s income and capital needs for herself and their child. They divorced in October 1992. At the time, they did not deal with the financial arrangements arising from the ending of the marriage. Ms Wyatt’s financial claims against Mr Vince were not dismissed and therefore the door was left open for her to make a claim against his wealth (which he had accrued due to his successful energy business) decades later.