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STAHM Staying in family home post divorce

(92 Posts)
ustbxh Wed 15-May-19 21:54:02

To be clear - I'm the STBXH - I've also posted in Legal but hoping for a more real-life set of replies based on experience here.

My wife has decided that I should now become the ex husband. Totally against my desires, but we've had our issues and I can't pretend it's a surprise or totally unwarranted.

We live in a large 4 bed house - with currently a circa. 65% LTV mortgage. Payments are a bit more than 1100/month.

Being a SAHM she has no / very minimal income. I am what I believe is described here as a "high earner", base around 100, with car allowance + bonus + shares nearly 130.

We have two children around 4 & 7 (by the time this happens)

Her thoughts are she'll stay in the house with the kids. I will be paying around 1100-1200/month in CM and she has suggested to me I should cover the remainder of household finances via spousal maintenance. This would be a total (CM+SM) of around 2400/month. This would not include any of the extras like house savings required to run a house or child's activities.

This would leave me a little over 2500/month from my salary.

We appear to be in the exceptionally fortunate (and rare - thus I am struggling to find other posts) position that there is more than enough money in the monthly pot to fun a reasonable lifestyle for both of us and our children.

My concerns are this:

1. Without selling the house, we can't release equity (monthly payments would become an issue etc) thus I can't move on and buy my own house / home.

2. By her staying in property, as it's joint ownership, any future property I bought (I could save a deposit by living with parents for a while) would attract a silly amount of stamp duty almost equal to a deposit.

3. There'd be nothing stopping her finding a new partner and him living with her in the home that I pay for in it's almost entirety.

Thus, my desire is to sell the property, I can then buy a new family home where I can live and the children have their own home at my place - none of this "dad sleeps on sofa" stuff.

This would leave her with a sizeable amount of cash (maybe 90-100k?) however no benefits (due to cash) and limited options for a mortgage. A 3bed house here is crica. 200k on the bottom end of the scale.

What I'm really looking for information on is

1. Has anyone been in a similar situation - if so how did it work out for you?
2. Am I being unreasonable expecting to sell our family home, given the consequences of that are that she'll likely need to rent?
3. Should I accept that kids always come first and that I should accept that there's enough money to achieve this and that this is probably the least worst option? Even if I fund this for the next 16 or so years until the kids are no longer living at home?

As I said, I've posted over in Legal so I'm less interested in the legal / technical side and more interested in the moral sides.


OP’s posts: |
stucknoue Wed 15-May-19 23:11:22

Morally it seems right to ensure the kids aren't disadvantaged, but this means a safe home not necessarily a big one! I would find out if you could from equity purchase a smaller home outright that your stbew could have as part of the divorce settlement as the equity share plus perhaps instead of pension, they child maintenance should be sufficient on top of her working. You should offer to pay 50% of childcare costs and things like uniform.

The court would probably award child maintenance plus potentially up to 5 years spousal support to get them to the age where they can come home alone. By buying a house outright for her you are free to buy yourself with a mortgage.

ustbxh Wed 15-May-19 23:23:28


>You should offer to pay 50% of childcare costs and things like uniform.

In addition to CM + SM?

There's about 120k equity which is not enough to buy anything in the area (distance wise for school).

OP’s posts: |
purpleboy Wed 15-May-19 23:37:45

I think you sound so kind and very generous. But don't be taken for a mug.
Absolutely support your DC above and beyond, but don't put yourself in a financial predicament on her behalf. If she is capable of working then she should be looking to do so.

TheFormidableMrsC Wed 15-May-19 23:50:51

I've been through this but my situation was complicated by a child with a disability but I do have a friend I am supporting through divorce at the moment. She is trying to keep the family home with help from parents acting as guarantors. The situation is :

Children 5 and 8 (both at school)

She was a SAHM until husband left

Solicitor told her to get a job (she did, part time, in a school)

Additional support via tax credits and maintenance from ex for children.

What is going to happen is that she is going to have to take on the mortgage if she wants to stay in the family home. This is going to require some financial juggling and indeed guarantor assistance. However, there is a second property to ensure ex has his "share".

I don't think it's reasonable for your STBXW to expect full financial support once the youngest is at school. I think it would be fair to maintain the situation until that time, if you can, she may be awarded spousal for a couple of years. However, this does not address the fact that you BOTH need to be housed . The fact is that there is not enough equity to house you both so the likelihood is that a court would expect you to sell and divide the equity in her favour. Clearly, you need to see a good solicitor and PLEASE try and maintain an amicable parting. I can't tell you how awful and stressful a bad divorce is. I think you sound very very fair and reasonable and willing to support your children properly, but at the end of the day, a young woman could not expect to remain an SAHM indefinitely. So, to repeat what I said earlier, try and maintain the status quo until your youngest is at school full time, not too far away, it will also give your wife time to adjust and look at what work would be suitable for her.

Good luck!

TheFormidableMrsC Wed 15-May-19 23:54:13

The other thing I didn't mention was that while your maintenance amount is generous, going forward, should she require childcare for school holidays etc, you must factor that in, it's hugely expensive. You really would do well to sit down together (perhaps with a mediator) and work out exactly what's what, what your expectations are going forward and how you can come to a fair settlement. Remember too that everybody is usually worse off after divorce and you just have to adjust and cut your cloth accordingly.

Waterandlemonjuice Wed 15-May-19 23:56:12

Sorry can’t help with all of it but YANBU expecting the family home to be sold so two smaller homes can be bought.

Waterandlemonjuice Thu 16-May-19 00:00:50

And morally, IMO, she needs to get a job once youngest is at school. You are being reasonable. And I say that as a FT WOTH parent in a marriage where we both work. I don’t think courts agree that women can just SAH indefinitely any more, even if they have been SAHMs. But I could be wrong on that. You will need to contribute to childcare costs, which is reasonable.

NorthernSpirit Thu 16-May-19 00:30:05

My now OH had a very acrimonious divorce and battle over finances. From memory:

• Kids were 7 & 10 at the time.
• 9 year marriage.
• EW had been a SAHM for 10 years and refused to work.
• At the time there was £255k equity in the FMH.
• EH earned circa £75k + bonus
• EH was paying £800 pm child maintenance (over the CMS stated amount) + her mortgage in full (£500) + was giving her £500 - the payments were crippling him. They had been separated 4 years.

EW wanted:
To stay in the FMH for a further 11 years (until youngest was 18)
• EH pay the mortgage in full during this time (was £500)
• She wanted £900 CM (I think the CMS stated the payment should of been £750)
• She wanted £400 pm Spousal
• A £3k lump sum
• A new car

She wouldn’t budge and it went to 3rd & final hearing

• OH argued in court that the house could be sold and both be re-homed adequately within 2 miles of the FMH
• She got to stay in the house for 4 years only (and then it was court ordered it be sold)
• If the EW lived there she pays the mortgage in full herself (she had to prove she could afford the mortgage and upkeep of the property). EH had to remain on the mortgage but he was indemnified should she default.
• Spousal maintainable demand was thrown out at first hearing, as was demand for a £3k lump and demand for a new car. Judge told her to get a job and start supporting herself.
• If she co-habituated for 6 months while still in the house it was to be sold

Divorce finances are based in needs, not wants. Your EW doesn’t need to live in a 4 bed house. She only needs a 3 bed.

As the father you need to be re-homed and this is key - you need to ‘provide adequate accommodation’ for when the children are with you. You also need a 3 bed property. In my OH’s case the EW told a judge she needed to be in a 3 bed, 3 bath house in a gated development and it was fine for the dad to live in a 1 bedroom flat because he could pay for them to stay in a hotel on his weekends. This was laughed out of court.

Don’t get screwed over. Your EW will have to start providing for herself.

NorthernSpirit Thu 16-May-19 00:31:32

I should add...

EW wanted 70% equity on sale of the house. Judge awarded her 62%.

Hotterthanahotthing Thu 16-May-19 00:54:57

Do you have a pension?If you do you could ask to keep your pension in exchange for the equity in the house.Youare then free to buy a house as I'm hoping on that salary you have some savings you could use as a deposit.
Then you pay child maintinance and help with uniforms,school trips etc.
The courts are interested in you both having a roof over your head and suitable for the children.
Since your wife could get work when youngest goes to school,receptionist 4,she may not get spousal maintinance.She still needs an income to rent or get a mortgage unless you negotiate her having the house.
I think you paying everything for another 12 years will breed resentment.
Maybe offering to help fund wrap around child care for your wife to re-enter the work place would be part of the solution rather than spousal maintinance .

Hotterthanahotthing Thu 16-May-19 00:57:23

Do you have a pension?If you do you could ask to keep your pension in exchange for the equity in the house.Youare then free to buy a house as I'm hoping on that salary you have some savings you could use as a deposit.
Then you pay child maintinance and help with uniforms,school trips etc.
The courts are interested in you both having a roof over your head and suitable for the children.
Since your wife could get work when youngest goes to school,receptionist 4,she may not get spousal maintinance.She still needs an income to rent or get a mortgage unless you negotiate her having the house.
I think you paying everything for another 12 years will breed resentment.
Maybe offering to help fund wrap around child care for your wife to re-enter the work place would be part of the solution rather than spousal maintinance .

ustbxh Thu 16-May-19 12:34:22


Yes I have a pension - that'd be an option, however it wouldn't allow her to stay in the house - only to have the equity, which wouldn't be enough to buy a suitable (or any?) property in the area, so what she then does I'm unsure as she still wouldn't be getting "what she wants".


OP’s posts: |
TheFormidableMrsC Thu 16-May-19 12:48:30

@ustbxh As I said previously, nobody "gets what they want" in divorce unfortunately. Everybody's life changes, not usually for the better financially. I appeared to "do well" out of it, but I didn't in reality.

Rather than seeking opinions here, which you will get because there are many of us going through or have gone through it, I would start off with seeing a solicitor and organising mediation. Without all the facts and figures on the table, a breakdown of all your expenditure, debts, etc, it's really impossible to tell you.

I maintain that if you can keep the status quo until youngest is at school, that would be a reasonable and responsible thing to do, however, after that, she is going to have to work. A court would tell her that. She is not going to get what she is proposing as it is totally unreasonable and far too much of a burden on you and effectively allows neither of you to rebuild new separate lives. If she was in her 60's, had never worked, nor been expected to, she might have a case that you describe above. However that is uncommon and usually only where there is a lot of wealth. I know of only one person this applied to and she has had to cut down her lifestyle more than significantly. You are not a billionaire.

She's being ridiculous.

1. She needs to get a job. She can't live off you forever.

2. The house needs to be sold - a court will recognise that you both need a home that can accommodate yourselves and the children. That's essential to allow you both to parent. Since equity is limited, the only way to do that is by selling the house. She certainly doesn't need a house of that size anyway.

3. You may well end up paying some spousal maintenance. You should ensure this is time limited. There's no excuee for her not training / learning / building experience to get herself back into the workplace. A court will try to ascertain her earnings potential when determining need, and will consider what job she did before becoming a SAHM plus skills etc. Again, she can't live off you forever

4. She will end up with a sizeable slug of your pension.

Essentially, mate, you're going to get taken to the cleaners. It's the inevitable consequence when you agree to support a non-working spouse. The faster you can reconcile yourself to that, the easier this will be on that. Your goal js tk ensure that your needs (for a home where you can also care for the kids) are heard, and that a settlement requires her to work towards becoming self-sufficient. Otherwise, you'll be supporting this woman for he rest of her life.

Hotterthanahotthing Thu 16-May-19 13:18:47

If the current house was sold and downsized,she gets equity against your pension if you pay the mortgage then at least it will be less than you pay now,and put a time limit on it.
Point out that inorder to see the children you must seriously consider working locally and so you cannot support her as well as the children.She has to take some responsibility.
A clean break is best really and even then getting her to be realistic may take time.
Be fair but don't be a mug,you have a future too and you need to secure that for you and your children.
Your wife needs to get a job.
You need to have a time limit as to how long you pay the mortgage.
The court doesn't care if you rent or own as long as both of you and the children have a roof over their heads.Your children won't care as long as they have lots of love and support from you both.
If this happened after the sale of the house,she gets all equity and rents it may motivate her to get a job and buy later with a good LTV deposit.

GarnierBBCream Thu 16-May-19 13:33:36

Essentially, mate, you're going to get taken to the cleaners

Not necessarily. You need a solicitor, OP. Spousal maintenance is no longer a given, mostly because a person's circumstances can change necessitating more court appearances so a 'clean break' is often seen as more favourable. Similarly, both parents are seen as financially responsible for the children and with both school or near school age, it's not a given she can continue to be financially provided for by you. It's also quite common for the family house to be sold.

It's also not a given she can continue to maintain full custody.

Basically, you need to put some feelers out and find a good solicitor.

Millyanon Thu 16-May-19 16:34:26

Get some proper legal advice with your full details (including pension). IMO, a civilised long term relationship between the parents as important to children as anything else, so try to do it without a drawn out court process if you can.

Firstly, the same income cannot feasibly support the same lifestyle for two households. Surely something needs to give.

Morally (legally too), she should expected to maximise her income. As a single parent, if she were working at least 16 hours a week, she'd be entitled to 30 hours childcare a week for your younger child. Some banks will lend on CMS ordered child maintenance, especially if there is some earned income. With part time income and CM, and even time-limited spousal, I can't imagine she won't have some borrowing capacity.

I hope you agree a good amount of time with the children. Children have the right to a good relationship with both parents. Surely it would be a positive role model for your children to see her provide for them and you to spend more time with them? And for her to be self-sufficient.

You will also need appropriate accommodation, even if rented or with a nil or v. low deposit at first.

If she went to a 200-250k property (your current house sounds beyond needs), I'd imagine the 2.4k you've been quoting as monthly costs would halve or at least reduce by a third, as the mortgage would drop significantly (especially if you agree to offset most of equity v pension), spread over the maximum term, as would utilities (smaller property), council tax (single person, lower band) and food.

It's always good to hear someone trying to be fair. But don't be unfair to yourself - you are both young, it would be good to achieve clean break as soon as you can, especially as you've pointed out she is capable of earning well.

Dropthedeaddonkey Thu 16-May-19 16:43:59

It's better for children to have a home rather than rent and potentially have to move regularly so you should try and find a solution where she can buy. But she needs to take over the mortgage and house go in her name so you can buy too. If she owns not rents then no capital to interfere with benefits. She can get tax credits as they don't take CM into account so no need for SM as well. If you maintain interest in property for later sale then it's reasonable to contribute to keeping it in good condition if you can afford to as its your asset too. She could look at getting 1-2 lodgers and a job if she wants stay in 4 bed otherwise she will have to downsize. As you have savings, shares and pension then a clean break might be to give her all the equity / house and just pay CM and keep pension, shares etc it is then for her to afford housing costs and living expenses. You can use savings / cash in shares etc to get back on housing ladder. If you did sell the sale and purchase costs would have to factored in. I think it would be hard for children to see their mum turfed out when they are 18 and unable to afford housing / having to rent so it's better to bite the bullet now. I would think with CM that high, benefits / earnings / lodger she would be able to get a mortgage. She needs to take responsibility for herself. The CM is a lot. Kids don't need lots activities but you can always fund these direct and pay school trips if you want. You are presumably expecting her to do school pick up / drop off / most of holidays as you will be at your well paid job so her earnings will be restricted. You may want to contribute to childcare if you don't have children overnight much so she can work as it does have a big impact. Although if she stayed in big house she could have an au pair and work full time. I suggest you run some scenarios though benefit checkers like Entitledto as you may be surprised how much she would get as a non earner.

user1494050295 Thu 16-May-19 17:04:21

Can you stay in the family home and buy out her share so she can use funds to buy a property

GarnierBBCream Thu 16-May-19 17:08:47

She can get tax credits

There are NO more tax credits for new claimants. All new applications are Universal Credit, and although CM isn't taken into account for income purposes under UC, other assets certainly are so she'll likely be expected to support herself but might be eligible for assistance with the cost of childcare. So on the contrary, she might be surprised how little she'll 'get' as the state is no longer interested in picking up the tab for non-earners by choice.

At any rate, it's not the OP's concern. His is getting a good solicitor to negotiate a deal that's fair for him, too, and takes into account her own financial responsibility towards herself and her children.

Manclife1 Thu 16-May-19 17:17:07

How about YOU live in the house with the kids and SHE moves out?

ustbxh Thu 16-May-19 17:18:46


No, I don't see that is a realistic option due to LTV.

OP’s posts: |
SleepingStandingUp Thu 16-May-19 17:33:54

The other issue Re maintenance etc is what custody arrangement you have. You don't have to settle for eow and one school night because she's decided the marriage is over. Assuming 4 yo starts reception Sept would 50/50 custody be doable?

GarnierBBCream Thu 16-May-19 17:48:09

'Clean breaks' are now the preferred option over spousal maintenance (CM is a separate issue) even in very long marriages so speak to your solicitor. A friend just finalised a divorce after 26 years of marriage and a clean break is what both their solicitors advised. As the marriage was a long one, the assets were all divided up via court agreement and the family house was sold. She had given up work to support 2 disabled children, 1 now grown and the other deceased, and this was taken into account when it came to the division of assets rather than spousal maintenance and she was able to buy another home outright following the sale of the family home but yes, she is expected to provide for herself following the split (although she did retain a percentage of his pension and their other assets).

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