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need some advice for a friend, please!

(12 Posts)

So, my friend has left her husband after he attacked her following about 4 yrs of verbal/emotional abuse and threats that he would kill her. She has reported him to the police, he is now on bail with a restraining order.
He is a self employed accountant, earning minimum wage plus dividend. She has no idea how much he earns, he has not let her know, and she does not have any paperwork.
He is currently claiming he is not working due to stress, is therefore not earning, and is not prepared to pay child support.He is still drawing dividends. He seems to believe he does not have to pay child support on the dividends, or at least has her believe it.
She owns 50% of their house outright due to an inheritance, and they jointly hold a mortgage on the rest, which he pays.
Now my questions- 1) I am sure he has to pay child support on his dividends, correct? 2) have the CSA changed yet, or if not, when are they going to? I want this guy assessed on his take statement, and not his declared earnings. Please talk me through it in small words ;) 3) he wantse th

Sorry, posted accidentally (on phone). Again- he wants the house sold. I am concerned if he is successful, he will be able to claim 50% of the total deposit (he put a fraction up of what she put in), could that happen? How does an occupation order work exactly ?
I appreciate your help. My friend would have posted herself, but is quite badly dyslexic

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 09:14:59

Your friend should really make an appointment with a professional - something like CAB or better still a solicitor. What she needs is a comprehensive financial settlement. Ongoing maintenance is usually calculated on disposable income so dividends would count as disposable income. It could be that a court would decide, on top of the maintenance payments, that she is entitled to much more than 50% of the property by way of compensation.

Thanks for answering. How would compensation be argued/ in what case could she get it? I have no experience, as I wasn't married and house was mine.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 10:23:56

How long is a piece of string? smile The starting point is that the marital assets are divided 50/50 in the event of a divorce but all kinds of things, legal precedents as well as voluntary arrangements, get brought into the discussion. The length of the marriage, the number of children, the relative incomes of the two parties, and what was brought into the marriage as opposed to acquired during the marriage. So you'll find that there is no one right answer and that it's all a question of negotiation. Any contact arrangements for the children, for example, are going to be very different for a violent father than for a normal man.

Hmmm, ok, I can see that. It had never even occurred to her that he might be entitled to some of the money she put into the house, just as it never occurred to her that of the 2 cars they had (both in his name, of course), one would realistically be hers.
They have been married for about 5 years, with 10 year relationship before marriage.
The children have very limited contact at a contact centre.
She has no income.
He seems to have been very financially abusive, f.e. he has led her to believe he earns about £30000 a year. I laughed at that! She has always "worked" for his company, and the money she was paid for this was her household budget, she never had any idea about finances/ insurance/ pension provisions/ savings etc.

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 11:03:28

If she'd been denied access to bank statements etc, suspects that he's going to be dishonest about revealing his income & assets and if there are considerable sums at stake then that's even more reason to go straight to a solicitor.

olgaga Thu 04-Oct-12 11:11:12

You might find this useful - but she must get proper legal advice!

Relationship Breakdown and Divorce – Advice and Links

It is useful if you can get to grips with the language of family law and procedure, and get an understanding of your rights, BEFORE you see a solicitor. If you are well prepared you will save time and money.

Children

If there are children involved, their welfare, needs and interests are paramount. Parents have responsibilities, not rights, in this regard. Shared residence means both parties having an equal interest in the upbringing of the children. It does not mean equal (50/50) parenting time - children are not possessions to be “fairly” divided between separating parents.

A divorce will not be granted where children are involved unless there are agreed arrangements for finance, and care of the children (“Statement of Arrangements for Children”). It is obviously quicker and cheaper if this can be agreed but if there is no agreement, the Court will make an Order - “Residence and Contact” regarding children, “Financial Order” or “Ancillary Relief” in the case of Finance. Information and links to these can be found in the Directgov link below. Residence and Contact Orders are likely to be renamed Child Arrangements Orders in future.

Always see a specialist family lawyer!

Get word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers in your area if possible. If you have children at school, ask mums you are friendly with if they know of anyone who can make a recommendation in your area. These days there are few people who don’t know of anyone who has been through a divorce or separation – there’s a lot of knowledge and support out there!

Many family lawyers will offer the first half hour consultation free. Make use of this. Don’t just stick with the first lawyer you find – shop around and find someone you feel comfortable with. You may be in for a long haul, so it helps if you can find a solicitor you’re happy with.

If you can’t find any local recommendations, always see a solicitor who specialises in Family Law.
You can also find out about Legal Aid and get advice on the Community Legal Advice Helpline on 08345 345 4 345
www.direct.gov.uk/en/Dl1/Directories/UsefulContactsByCategory/Governmentcitizensandrightscontacts/DG_195356
Co-operative Legal Services offer DIY/Self-Help Divorce packages, as well as a Managed Divorce service. Their fee structure is more transparent and they have a telephone advice line as well as offering really good advice on their website:
www.co-operative.coop/legalservices/family-and-relationships/

You can read advice and search by area for a family lawyer here:
www.resolution.org.uk/

You will also read good advice and find a family lawyer here:
www.divorceaid.co.uk/

Some family law solicitors publish online feedback from clients – Google solicitors to see if you can find any recommendations or feedback.

Mediation

You will be encouraged to attend mediation. This can help by encouraging discussion about arrangements for children and finance in a structured way in a neutral setting. However, it only works if both parties are willing to reach agreement.

If there has been violence or emotional abuse, discuss this with your solicitor first. Always get legal advice, or at the very least make sure you are aware of your legal rights, before you begin mediation. This is important because while a Mediator should have knowledge of family law, and will often explain family law, they are not there to give tailored legal advice to either party - so it’s important to have that first.

Married or Living Together?

This is a key question, because if you are married, generally speaking you have greater protection when a relationship breaks down.

Legal Issues around marriage/cohabitation and relationship breakdown are explained here:
www.adviceguide.org.uk/england/relationships_e/relationships_living_together_marriage_and_civil_partnership_e/living_together_and_marriage_legal_differences.htm#Ending_a_relationship

www.advicenow.org.uk/living-together/

DirectGov advice on divorce, separation and relationship breakdown:
www.direct.gov.uk/en/Governmentcitizensandrights/Divorceseparationandrelationshipbreakdown/index.htm

Legal Rights and issues around contact are further explained here:
www.rightsofwomen.org.uk/legal.php#children_relationship_breakdown
www.maypole.org.uk/

I found these guides from law firms quite informative and easy to read – there are others of course:

www.family-lawfirm.co.uk/uploaded/documents/Surviving-Family-Conflict-and-Divorce---2nd-edition.pdf

www.terry.co.uk/hindex.html

Finance

Before you see a family law solicitor, get hold of every single piece of financial information you have access to, and take copies or make notes. Wage slips, P60s, tax returns, employment contracts, pensions and other statements – savings, current account and mortgages, deeds, rental leases, utility bills, council tax bills, credit statements. Are there joint assets such as a home, pensions, savings, shares?

If you have no access to financial information, or you are aware that assets are being hidden from you, then obviously you will not be able to reach agreement on finances. If there are children, as you cannot divorce without adequate arrangements being agreed on finance and children, you will have to apply for a financial order anyway. If there are no children, and you are unable to agree on finances, you will also have to apply for a financial order (follow the Direct.gov links below). This seeks financial information from both parties going back 12 months. So it is in your interests to act quickly once you have made the decision to divorce.

If you are married, the main considerations of the Family Courts where parties are unable to agree a settlement are (in no particular order of priority):

1.The welfare of any minor children from the marriage.
2.The value of jointly and individually owned property and other assets and the financial needs, obligation and responsibilities of each party.
3.Any debts or liabilities of the parties.
4.Pension arrangements for each of the parties, including future pension values and any value to each of the parties of any benefit they may lose as a result of the divorce.
5.The earnings and earning potential of each of the parties.
6.Standard of living enjoyed during the marriage.
7.The age of the parties and duration of the marriage.
8.Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties.
9.Contributions that each party may have made to the marriage, either financially or by looking after the house and/or caring for the family.

CSA maintenance calculator:
www.csacalculator.dsdni.gov.uk/calc.asp

Handy tax credits calculator:
www.hmrc.gov.uk/taxcredits/payments-entitlement/entitlement/question-how-much.htm#7

Handy 5 Minute benefit check, tax and housing benefit calculators:
www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/

Parenting issues:
www.familylives.org.uk
www.theparentconnection.org.uk

Other Support for Women – Children, Housing, Domestic Violence
www.womensaid.org.uk/ and refuge.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 2000 247
www.ncdv.org.uk/ - Helpline 0844 8044 999
www.gingerbread.org.uk/ - Helpline 0808 802 0925
Housing www.england.shelter.org.uk/get_advice/families_and_relationships/relationship_breakdown
(Note that there is usually an appropriate link on these websites for England, Wales and Scotland where the law, advice and contact information may differ.

she has a solicitor- the are not very helpful (to say the least), very expensive, and do not accept legal aid. Hmph.
I have advised her to call woman's aid for support, and rights of women to find a solicitor accepting legal aid and more experienced in divorce where abuse is concerned.
Olgaga I do suspect he has hidden assets, and has definitely never disclosed any finances. Financial order is good!
Due to abuse, there won't be mediation.

Does anyone know when the CSA assessment rules change(d)?
And what are the rules of occupation order? How long does it last/ I was under the impression you could get an order to stay in the house until children are 18?

CogitoErgoSometimes Thu 04-Oct-12 14:06:24

She needs a different, more helpful solicitor. As for legal aid, doubtless her ex will employ the best one their money can afford so why doesn't she use the same tactic? Get one specialising in family law and send the ex the bill as part of the settlement.

olgaga Thu 04-Oct-12 14:42:59

Tell her to dump her solicitor and shop around until she finds one she clicks with. The links above will help.

god yes, the solicitors issue will have to be addressed I think.
My DP has had a look at his (various) companies and it all looks quite dodgy. Looks like a forensic accountant may also be a good idea sad

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