Divorcees who fall on hard times have been given hope by a landmark Supreme Court ruling which enabled an impoverished ex-wife to seek financial provision from her multi-millionaire former husband 23 years after the end of their marriage.
The couple’s relationship had lasted only about three years before their separation in 1984. There was one child of the marriage, which ended in divorce in 1992. The couple had a very modest lifestyle when together; however, the husband subsequently achieved great business success, establishing a seven-figure fortune. He remarried and fathered two more children in the years following his divorce.
The wife continued to live in straitened circumstances and, in 2012, applied to the High Court for financial provision from the husband in the form of a lump sum. A judge refused his application to strike out her claim; however, that decision was subsequently reversed by the Court of Appeal.
Unanimously allowing the wife’s appeal against that decision, the Court ruled that her application could not be viewed as an abuse of the legal process. She faced formidable difficulties in establishing a right to financial provision, not least because of the short duration of the marriage and the lapse of time since the divorce. She was nevertheless entitled to a full hearing of her case.