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Help please....so worried, old unpaid bill cropped up

(10 Posts)
ballybaby Fri 10-Jan-14 13:30:16

I so hope somebody can advise me here, I am going out of my mind with worry.
I divorced in 2010. At the time I was working with two under 18's at home.
A little background. My ex husband and I had been married for just a short time. We bought a house together (using all of the equity from my property £110,000). Cutting a long story short, it transpired my ex had multi-debts, all registered at his parents address and denied time and time by him. When I could take no more and had lost all respect for him we seperated. I approached a solicitor some 6 months later to file for divorce. The solicitor originally qouted me £1800 for the divorce, and I was just above the threshold for legal aid help and so therefore got no help. The divorce took over two years to finalise and due to my ex husband refusing to appoint a solicitor and ignoring letters and not appearing at court, this cost seemed to get higher and higher. The last I remember was a figure of about £7500!!!! I arranged a payment of £100 a month with the solicitors....nothing formal.
Anyway the final court order agreed that I would keep the house, pay the mortgage and he would pay a "goodwill gesture" of £100 per month for my children (not his children but he was stepdad to them for 7 years...has made no contact with them since seperating). As time went on my debts mounted...I had no choice but to sell the house and pay off my debts. I came out of the house with just £30,000 which all went on paying debts. At the time of the house move I contacted the solicitors on two occasions to ask for a final bill to pay off. They never got back to me. (bearing in mind this was in 2011). At this point I ceased to pay the monthly repayment whilst waiting for a reply.
Anyway...time moved on. I met my wonderful (now) husband and we married in June last year. We moved away as he is in the army and I am now receiving six months of contributions based JSA ..ending in MArch.
This morning I received a call on my mobile from the solicitors asking for the outstanding balance. I am so worried. I have no savings and we just scrape by on the £18000p/a wages my husband earns.
I explained this to her and she was not happy. She said she was off to have a word with the accounts department.
I feel sick with worry.
Does anybody have any advice...please.

THERhubarb Fri 10-Jan-14 13:35:46

Do you have all the evidence at hand to say that you asked for a final bill? You see the problem is that you stopped the monthly payments without speaking to them. Did you try phoning them?

I would write them a letter putting down everything you can including the first quote, the last quote you ever got from them, how many monthly payments you made and what attempts you made to contact them. I would then ask why they have taken so long to contact you about this bill.

Trouble is, if it's money you owe them then you need to pay it but you are legally entitled to a full breakdown of those costs. Not sure legally where you stand if you've never had one of these and they have failed to contact you.

Make an appt with the CAB who can advise you further.

ballybaby Fri 10-Jan-14 13:40:43

Thank you Rhubarb.
I do have some papers from that time but due to moving house twice since then i think most were got rid of.
At the time i spoke on the phone twice to my solicitors secratary....each time she promised to send the bill but it never arrived.
Whilst i know that i have to pay the bill without a job and only having 2 months more of job seekers allowance left I cant see anyway of paying it.
I will find out where my nearest cab is and book an appointment.

ballybaby Fri 10-Jan-14 13:43:35

I also tried to contact them after i sold the house as my ex husband stopped the goodwill payment after he found out i had sold it as he said it was on condition that i stayed in the house....a load of rubbish. I contacted them for advice but once again they failed to get back to me. So in the end I decided to jist move on.

THERhubarb Fri 10-Jan-14 13:46:10

Talk to them again. Explain that you need an itemised breakdown of the bill and details of what you have already paid.

Demand answers as to why a) they didn't send you the full itemised bill when you asked them to and b) why it has taken them 2 years to contact you about this matter.

If you go on to them enough, make an official complaint, etc then they might, just might, cut the bill size down as a token of goodwill. It's up to their discretion but they have royally cocked up by the sounds of it and left you in a precarious position. I would be playing bloody hell with them.

You do also need legal advice from the CAB to make sure that you act legally and also to check if they are.

ballybaby Fri 10-Jan-14 14:08:13

I have called CAB and am going down on monday morning to see somebody.
I need to calm down and know my facts before calling solicitors again.....i may end up a sniveling wreck on the end of the phone.
Thank you again

THERhubarb Fri 10-Jan-14 14:17:34

Well done.

Look, what can be gained at this stage from worrying? You'll only ruin the weekend for yourself and it changes nothing.

The CAB can call the solicitors for you if you like. They are very experienced at dealing with debts and legal bodies so I'm convinced they'll know what to do.

Make sure you gather together everything you can find. Can you get hold of an old phone bill? Call your old phone company and they might be able to send you a copy so you can prove you called them. Have you any emails? Letters?

They should also have a record their end and trust me, they will need to answer why they didn't contact you sooner. You can request your file from them and it should show all your calls and letters in there.

But again, let the CAB mention that to them. Now go and have a cup of tea and don't worry. They've waited 2 years so they can bloody well wait a little longer can't they?

ballybaby Fri 10-Jan-14 14:34:35

Lol. You are of course right.
I guess i had "put away" the whole stress of that time....and believe me I was at my wits end between 2007 -2012 with the whole divorce and not being able to make ends meet. Life has been so much happier for the last year that its given me a shake up and rattled boxes that I had proverbially shut the lid on and nailed down.
As we now live in NIreland I left some things in storage in the uk....including (if any) the paperwork i had kept.
It has helped though to have somebody elses input on it...thanks

THERhubarb Fri 10-Jan-14 14:49:12

No probs, let me know how you get on smile

littleredsquirrel Mon 13-Jan-14 09:21:56

You were actually given a bill initially for the 7500 right? if so then you were only asking for a further copy and so that won't take you anywhere.

Solicitors are obliged to invoice promptly. If you don't get anywhere with them agreeing monthly payments then you can go to the legal ombudsman however you did incur the bill and so in all likelihood you will have to pay it. Presumably they have only now managed to track you down given that you've moved to NI?

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