What rights does my friend have?(39 Posts)
My friend has separated from her partner; they never married, were together for 16 years and have one child together.
They have now separated as he was becoming abusive; they have 2 properties which are in my friend name; he is living in one and she in the other but he is no paying the mortgages of any of the properties nor giving any child maintenance; he does pay for the private school fees but nothing else.
My friend doesn't work; she has a lawyer but things don't see to be going anywhere; the lawyer has sent some letters to his lawyer but he is not replying.
What options/ rights does my friend have?
She needs to start paying the mortgages herself. I'm afraid that means getting a job. Crap but other people do and do it to pay for their mortgages, yes and also pay out for childcare. If on a low income, much of childcare would be covered by tax credits.
I don't think private school fees should come before paying a mortgage though.
Then the properties would normally stay with the legal owner, though it is possible to secure orders allowing the non-owner to stay put if they live with children there. Often better avoided (IMO) if at all possible, because it ties you together for longer.
School fees is up for negotiation between to the two of them, but although the child has a right to an education, there is no right to a specific form of education and whereas it is clearly in a child's interest to avoid disruption, changing schools (especially at a natural break point) isn't that unusual.
Mediation might be the way ahead, to sort out residency and maintenance for the DC, plus other specific topics to which each parent attaches importance, and as far as possible the ground rules for future co-parenting.
She is been looking for a job but her confidence is very low; he had always supported her; she has been borrowing money .
He has now started taken their child to where he is living; I imagine this is all a plan to try and fight for the house; the lawyer sent a letter asking him to pay the rent which off course he is not replaying.
They are her houses but she is going to have to start paying for them or decide to put one of them up for sale. They are hers, not his.
This is a situation of priorities. The mortgage needs to be paid BEFORE the lawyer which is a luxury as is private schooling. Is she claiming full tax credits? Food, mortgage, utilities. These are essentials needed for housing and self preservation.
Their child only attends private school because that's all he is paying and he is paying directly to school; she doesn't get a penny from him; If the child would not attend private I doubt he will pay for anything at all.
She does need to work and pay the mortgages; she may have to kick him out of the other property and sell it but that sounds very drastic as he is still the father of the child but as he is not paying anything else it leaves her with no choice.
Agreed with the lawyer being a luxury; things don't seem to be going anywhere but I believe she thought it could help to negotiate things; however there have only been letters going back and forward.
Where/how can she get a mediator in London? Is it free?
Apparently she can't get any benefits because she has two properties on her name; not sure about tax credits as she doesn't work
She could start with www.nfm.org.uk in looking for a mediator.
It does sound as if she needs to get him evicted, then get a paying tenant or just sell the property.
How is she covering the costs of the property in which she is currently resident?
Because if just defaulting, there's only going to be a short period (few months) before a major problem.
I believe she spoke to the bank; she also lended money from family.
I think she will find this forum more useful than the lawyer which she can't afford; I have told her what it had been said here; he sent a letter from his lawyer asking to take the child away for holidays.
I believe he is trying to put pressure on her to put one of the properties on his name by not giving her money and perhaps kidnapping the child. Maybe I am being dramatic here 😬
Well.. Provided she doesn't insist on keeping the child in private school, she is in a very good position: she has 2 houses, one can bring a steady income. He has no right because they are not married. She has no chance in hell of getting spousal maintenance, and the child maintenance is only 15% of his salary provided the child spends less than 53 nights a year with his dad. So I would say that if school fees are more than that, he is actually already paying more than his share.
She needs to work, no doubt about that, but IS / tax credits can be of help during the transition. Any job will do.
And no, she still needs a lawyer, Mumsnet is full of people with very good intentions but when it comes to legal advice it is often not very acurate.
We are only talking from our own experience but the solicitor can tailor the advice to her needs provided she is proactive about it, she expects the solicitor to take charge and deal with everything she is up for a disappointment of a very hefty bill.
Talking of that, she may be entitled to legal aid considering she has no income. (The CAB is a good point to start for initial help)
Tax credits is not based on owneship of a property! I own a property I cannot live in and I rent the other. Rent declared and paid on the property I own and I get tax credits. It is absolutely untrue if you own property you cannot get tax credits, they simply taken into account income from the properties, so as there is none, she is entitled to tax credits if her income is nil, plus income support etc etc. Savings however DO impact on income support, not sure about tax credits (I don't have savings only my husband's debts left to me).
Mediators are not free but are far far less cost than solicitors. Some solicitors are also mediators. From experience, I'd be loathe now to have a mediator how also works defending people in family law, I'd rather have one with a mindset where CHILDREN come first and not the client. Maybe that is just my experience, a DISGUSTING one in Kent represented my husband who stood in court and told the judge the children should lose their home so their father could buy a new home in the most expensive part of the UK (where his children would never live or visit), "family" lawyer , I was allowed to cross exam, as self representing, justified HER reasoning that she was representing her client not the needs of the children of her client. Maybe there are some mediator / lawyers out there with morals, but I would prefer a mediator only. For child support I managed after 2 years to persuade my husband to use a mediator, the only positive and moralistic professional I met in the whole sorry episode of losing the family unit. Alas she's a foreign mediator, or I'd recommend her.
She will NOT be entitled to legal aid. If you own a property, even if mortgaged, even if your partner has been arrested for attempted murder, as in my case, NO LEGAL AID!!!!
That's exactly what I meant... Tax credits are based on income not property.
I owned a property when I asked for legal aid, had my ex not been paying £10 in maintenance above the Legal Aid cut out point for income, I would have been entitled to it (or at least that was what my solicitor said)
This is very useful; have sent her the link with the comments
CAB help or any other legal help especially regarding the house the father is currently living in, about serving with eviction / demand for rent.
Discussions about need for private schooling.
Discussions about shared care 50/50 or major/minor and impact on maintenance not yet paid but certainly sounds can afford given the private schooling.
Probably the most important. At least ONE GOOD FRIEND to see her through all this.
Legal Aid is severely restricted and the change is recent. It is basically only available to victims of documented DV. Then they look at your assets. If you own a house / have a mortgage on a house or savings of more than a tiny amount, you then get disqualified from legal aid, so you basically not only have to be a DV victim, you have to be renting with the lowest income. It is a terrible situation but that is how it is.
OP, another big saving in legal fees can be reading The Which Guide to Divorce (most of the advice will be irrelevant as they are not married, but it can provide her with a good background in separation of assets and arrangements for the care of children ) All the basics are explained in this book, she then can use a solicitor just to ask the questions that are very specific to her case.
And another one, her solicitor is her employee, she doesn't need to convince them about how bad the ex was or use them as friends or for counselling. They are lovely and great support but in my times an hour of counselling was about £45, while the solicitor was charging £180 per hour so... If money is an issue, it is better to be straight to the point and use them just for legal advice.
Might be worth looking at Resolution for mediators - they are an organisation for family solicitors that take a non confrontational, child-centred approach to mediation.
Wrt the houses, Shelter are very good for all sorts of housing related advice, not just for people who are completely homeless.
Yes there are solicitors, if your friend really does need high cost legal advice, who charge to answer specific questions. Had I had any money at all (my savings were withdrawn and spent, the rest was in blocked accounts), I might have considered this arrangement. It avoids the huge charges for sending and receiving letters, photocopying charges, plus the time per hour which can just grow exponentially before you know it. Knowledge is strength. I also started with a book and read around the subject, to gain as much confidence as possible in dealing with what turned out to be 25k of "family" lawyer of my husband's and her endless letters and demands and most hurtful her letters claiming I would be imprisoned IF l ever failed to co-operate (whilst I was actually hospitalized she still sent the jail threats), whilst her own client failed to respond the majority of his own actions, 12 months late with his financial disclosure, 3 months late with his narrative, his Q and A responses (which when arrived were mainly "no comment"). Taking on non fixed price legal advice can be very risky, as the lawyer has the right to charge for so many things. I am glad I was unable to even have this as a choice.
Life, if things have not changed, solicitors charge a flat rate per blocks of 6 minutes, not by difficulty of the question (now if it is something quite specific that they need to research on, more minutes spent in it, therefore more charges)
Eg. A solicitor can explain in 10 minutes all the basics of child maintenance and that would cost around £40 for the 10mins, you can get that same info from a book, direct.gov.uk it CMo for free. Then pay the solicitor to explain how the position would be different if he continues or stops paying the school fees.
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