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Withholding maintenance in lieu of divorce cost

(16 Posts)
Anewchapter Mon 19-Aug-19 02:45:17

Sorry for the long post but I want to give as much background as possible. After years of living with a financially abusive man (amongst other things) my view may be skewed. I’m separated and the family home is sold. We have one ds (13) who lives with me but with the arrangement that he can see/stay with his dad anytime and for as long as he wants. The reality is that ds is with me most of the time and spends the very occasional weekend and some holiday time with his Dad. Ds is happy with this arrangement. We signed a consent order with regards to finances and the split of assets/equity. I have 52% of the total and a mutually agreed £200 per month maintenance paid into my account on the 1st of the month. The backdrop to all this was that h did not want to split, stalled the process as much as he could and refused to engage a solicitor or take any legal advice that would cost him. In desperation and to be able to move on I had 3 different agreements drawn up (he agreed the first two and then changed his mind and refused to sign) effectively running up my solicitors bill (£2000+) and costing him nothing. Finances dictated we lived in the same house while this was going on(it took over a year to sell) and towards the end he stopped contributing to housekeeping dragging me deeper into debt. No consent order agreement meant I couldn’t exchange on a flat I’d offered on. He signed at the eleventh hour, literally the day before exchange. It almost destroyed the chain and it was all extremely stressful. At the time we didn’t discuss a divorce (I didn’t have the mental energy or finances to do that as well) and just thought we would do it at a later date. Well, the later date has arrived. He sent me a message last month saying he was starting divorce proceedings and it was going to cost £950. He’s using a company that charge £400 plus £550 court fees. I didn’t respond and assumed some paperwork would drop through the letterbox at some point. He hasn’t paid the August maintenance (it’s not unusual to keep me guessing as to when it will arrive) and I chased him for it. He responded saying he’s withholding payments to cover my half of the divorce costs and would I prefer him to reduce payments to £100 a month for the next 4 months instead! Considering his head in the sand approach to the financial agreement am I right to feel this is hypocritical and that if he instigates divorce proceedings then he should pay for them? I feel like I’m being blackmailed to agree to his terms and with whatever he’s put in the petition otherwise it will drag on/cost more and he will take longer to reinstate the maintenance. I actively avoid conflict hence me taking until the 18th of this month to chase the maintenance and I’m angry that he can still exert financial control over me. I’m overdrawn and was relying on the maintenance to get me to the end of the month. I’m so frustrated with him I’m in danger of turning into a screaming banshee which is exactly what he wants. Any thoughts on how to word a response without the involvement of costly solicitors or CSA (he’s self employed...) would be very much appreciated. Thank you for reading!

OP’s posts: |
HennyPennyHorror Mon 19-Aug-19 03:55:41

I would not argue with him. Only because it's two lots of 200 quid which isn't THAT bad even though he is in the wrong for doing it to you.

If you argue with him, you'll have to take him to court by the sound of it.

What a total wanker he is. Could you scrape by missing two instalments of his payments?

Anewchapter Mon 19-Aug-19 09:14:25

Thanks for your reply. I agree that in the scheme of things another £400 is a small price to pay to finally be ‘free’. It’s the absolute entitlement he still thinks he has to fuck me over that makes my blood boil. Wanker indeed. I’ve just checked my account balance this morning, as I do everyday, to find my wonderful sister has transferred some money to put my account back in the black and a bit extra to get me by until payday. I’m now a relieved, emotional, gibbering wreck at the thought of her kindness and humbled to have people in my life who truly care.

OP’s posts: |
WatchingFromTheWings Mon 19-Aug-19 09:18:14

As soon as the divorce is finalised I'd be straight onto CMS to sort the maintenance or he'll be pulling stunts like this again and again. He's already broken any signed agreement you have with him re maintenance.

mordecaithomas Mon 19-Aug-19 09:34:10

I don't understand why an extra £400 has to be paid on top of court fees. I filed for divorce, it's done online now and you can do it yourself without any representation.

tictac86 Mon 19-Aug-19 09:39:58

I would suck it up and make out it does not bother you. It's hard I know but in the long run your feel better for it. Then go to child maintenance people and get it all done through them so he cant do it again to you. He may have to pay the 400 back to you through them anyway. Your doing ace.

chocolatesaltyballs22 Mon 19-Aug-19 09:45:57

You could be talking about my ex husband there. He has continuously over the years used every excuse in the book to not pay maintenance. Your ex is still trying to control your finances by the sounds of it. Get the divorce done and dusted and then make sure maintenance payments are done via the CMS so that he can't wriggle out of them.

KTara Mon 19-Aug-19 09:49:02

He is being extremely petty to get a reaction out of you.

I think I would tell him that if he really thinks that his DC cost less because he has filed for divorce then he is more unreasonable than you had thought. School uniforms etc need to be bought at this time of year. Does he propose that your DC go to school in last year’s clothes?

I get the let it go for a quiet life response and that may be wisest, but if you have the energy, I would calmly reply that DC’s costs do not go down just because he has chosen August (when school uniform needs to be bought) to file for divorce. Obviously you cannot stop him doing that, but if he does not re-instate maintenance, you will be forced to go through CMS. (He does not need to know that you do not wish to do this)

Anewchapter Mon 19-Aug-19 10:15:14

Thank you all. He’s really messed with my head regarding finances over the years to the point where I actually feel guilty asking him to pay the overdue maintenance.
Because I instigated the split he’s very good at playing the victim so he doesn’t have to take any responsibility himself. Weirdly, I’m financially more secure without him as I can budget and account for every penny without him draining more than he’s putting in. Because of his laziness he was always very erratic with his earnings and contributions to the household. I should have kicked him into touch years ago. Living in fear of someone messing up your life is far worse than going it alone. I’ve overstretched this month for various reasons and this has just tipped me over the edge. I’ll learn from it and not allow him the satisfaction of knowing he’s upset me.

OP’s posts: |
chocolatesaltyballs22 Mon 19-Aug-19 10:17:34

I wish you all the best @anewchapter, sounds like you're well shot of him. I went through similar with my ex - he guilted me for years as it was my decision to leave and he thought we should have stayed together for our daughter. Just don't let him continue to try and control you. Mine still tries, 8.5 years on. But I don't let him.

Anewchapter Mon 19-Aug-19 10:18:43

And this is my first time starting a new post and I’m so grateful for all your supportive and constructive comments.

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SeaSidePebbles Tue 20-Aug-19 08:36:32

Oh, OP, I am sorry, my thoughts are so terribly jumbled, I really could do with sitting down with you over a coffee.
I could have written your post. In fact, I came on this board to do just that.
My divorce was pronounced yesterday. I’ve been grinning like an idiot since I got the email.

ExH did not want a divorce. When he was made to agree, he stopped maintenance to pay for the £550. He decided I am paying for all of it, since I am comfortable off.
I have savings, a good salary and I can take on extra shifts, plus, I live with DP, so I wasn’t shafted from that point of view.

What it did do though, is completely destroy his relationship with DD. As in: it’s gone beyond the point of no return.

Anyway, cut a long story short, it’s done. I am divorced. I said nothing. I did not reply to a single email he sent me.
I am tempted to write one now, bit that would just feed his madness.

So, this is what I did. Nothing. He stopped maintenance for 3 months, I sucked it up and now I am divorced.

I am now enjoying my first coffee in bed as a free woman.

I’m sorry if I don’t make much sense.

Anewchapter Tue 20-Aug-19 16:04:28

Congratulations on your freedom SeaSidePebbles. What a way to wake up! You are quite right, of course. It’s a small price to pay to be well rid, to be able to hold your head high and know you haven’t sunk to his petty level. My DS is completely unaware of the situation and he will never hear it from me. But stbxh’s self entitled, mean character will reveal itself one day no matter how many Disney dad days he arranges.
I feel a lot stronger today. I was completely floored yesterday with how easily he can still invade my life and I need to get better at not rising to it.
By way of drawing a line under it for now I sent him a message clearly stating I did not agree with him withholding the maintenance as payment towards the divorce and that I will take that as his refusal to honour the consent order.
I’m assuming the consent order has to go before a judge at some point and I wanted to make it absolutely clear in writing that he has defaulted without my consent.
I also requested evidence of proceedings as he has form for forging my signature on a joint building society account (he got found out and my statement is on file) so his morals are very questionable.
So for now I’m going to push him from my thoughts and enjoy the sunshine in the safe haven I call MY home.

OP’s posts: |
SeaSidePebbles Wed 21-Aug-19 07:33:53

anewchapter, thank you.
The exH has form for trying to manipulate DD. She’s a teenager. I said nothing for a long time, dealing with her tantrums that her father fuelled with lies. When she found out it’s all his manipulation, she asked me to be honest and tell her the truth, she stated she feels lied by both parents, me lying by omission and letting her scream at me when I knew full well I did nothing.
So when he stopped the maintenance, she asked for money and I said it’ll be tight for a bit, she needs to wait due to her dad’s decision. It broke my heart. But she insisted it was the right thing to do, no more lies.

bengalcat Wed 21-Aug-19 07:40:12

So after ‘ however long it is ‘ of separating and stalling he’s finally starting divorce proceedings - so he says . Well why not pip him to the post and get it all over with .

Anewchapter Wed 21-Aug-19 10:46:30

That must have been so difficult for you SeaSidePebbles. It just goes to show that you think you’re doing the right thing by protecting your children from the detail but you could be setting them up for a greater fall somewhere in the future. It’s def something for me to think about. Your DD is showing great maturity which obviously comes from your love and guidance. I wish you both well.
Bengalcat that is a good point and something I will consider if nothing appears over the next few weeks. I’m slightly suspicious as apart from eventually removing his own personal stuff and cherry picking other items just prior to sale he literally did nothing in the way of practical stuff/paperwork/moving things on. It’s very out of character for him to be proactive which leads me to think he’s either pulling the wool over my eyes or something else is going on in the background.
One thing I would put money on (if I had any...wink) is that if I instigated proceedings he would revert to type and start stalling.

OP’s posts: |

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