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divorce - what the hell should I do?

(13 Posts)
onewaystreet Wed 26-Sep-12 00:00:05

After a 20 year marriage but with no shared assets am I entitled to any divorce settlement or maintenance from ex? There are plenty of business assets but none in my name - in fact NOTHING is in my name - house belongs with business. I have no access to what he calls "his" money. He will not make a formal maintenance arrangement or even discuss finances with me. He will not even respond to correspondence from my solicitor. Though I would hardly describe my solicitor as proactive!!! After several months of me and the kids being homeless ex does now pay rent on a house for us. He changed locks on our house and moved a woman (who he describes as a "friend") in shortly after threatening to kill me and our son if I didn't leave. I gave up a decent job to look after the kids and help with his business but he says supporting me for those years means I've had my lot from him and won't be getting anything else. My solicitor just keeps telling me it's very difficult to reach a settlement in cases such as this (whatever that is supposed to mean) Does anyone have any advice? I have tried so hard not to bore my friends to death and bleat on about all this but I am slowly going mad with frustration. I would never have thought of myself as a pathetic flake - but it seems somewhere along the way that's exactly what I've become. Ex tells me if I go to court I will find he is paying more than he should and what he has to pay will be cut. Cannot get a straight answer from solicitor about whether this could be the case. Advice? Anyone? and thanks for reading this far!

prh47bridge Wed 26-Sep-12 00:21:07

It doesn't matter whose name assets are in. You are entitled to a fair share. You are also entitled to child maintenance - how much depends on his earnings and the number of children involved. You may be entitled to maintenance for yourself as well.

mumblechum1 Wed 26-Sep-12 00:29:50

It sounds as though your solicitor should just bite the bullet and get onwith applying for Financial Relief, if your husband isn't cooperating with exchanging financial info.

All your solicitor has to do,initially, is file a Form A and the fee at the county court, and then you both have to file your forms E in plenty of time before the hearing.

If your solicitor won't get on with it, find one who will.

MOSagain Wed 26-Sep-12 01:06:55

agree with prh and mumbles
Of course you are entitled to a share of the matrimonial assets and it makes no difference whose name they are in.

Your solicitor needs a poke to getting onto issuing proceedings in relation to the finances and if he/she doesn't then you need to consider instructing a new solicitor.

Good luck

deleted203 Wed 26-Sep-12 01:19:21

Can I just say that when I got divorced my first solicitor was crap not very good, and was very pessimistic that I would get anything much - after 14 years of marriage and 3 kids. Even though Ex was quite a well off farmer, with land, equipment, farmhouse, etc. Like you, nothing was in my name. And then someone I knew was telling me about her friend who had received a great settlement from her ex......so I asked for her number and said you don't know me - but I'm a friend of X and would you mind telling me which solicitor you used?. I changed my solicitor to this woman and she was fantastic - got me far more than I'd actually asked for. You should be entitled to a minimum 30% share of all the matrimonial assets. I would work out what you think this figure should be and find a solicitor who is prepared to pursue this for you. Good luck.

izzyizin Wed 26-Sep-12 01:59:49

Change your solicitor and source a rottweiler one who's up to speed on divorce and family law.

What county do you live in?

Collaborate Wed 26-Sep-12 09:07:54

OP - you are entitled to a minumum of 50% of the matrimonial assets (sure sowornout's post wasw a typo wink). You'll need legal advice to identify what constitutes the marital assets. You may get more than this depending on the operation of the factors outlined in s25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973. You'll need legal advice for that too. The most important of those factors, for you, may be need and contributions.

I agree that you should be applying to court.

deleted203 Wed 26-Sep-12 10:35:23

grin No, it wasn't a typo, but I may have been mistaken. I certainly didn't get 50%. I was told (although this was a good few years back) that basically courts worked on 30% heading up towards 50% depending on the years of marriage, number of kids, need, contributions, etc. Certainly agree you need some good legal advice, though.

onewaystreet Wed 26-Sep-12 14:03:42

Thanks for the advice everyone. Sowornout - let's just say your situation strikes a chord and Collaborate I was particularly interested in your comments about finding out what constitutes a marital asset. According to my ex - we didn't have any assets - everything belongs to the business - you name it, it belongs to the business and that business is in his and his parents names not mine. I think it's fair to say I need a second opinion or to make myself concerns very clear to my solicitor. The solicitor came via a recommendation and supposedly specializes in cases where one party is liquidating or concealing assets or income. I do need a rottweiler as my ex loves and argument and will argue 24/7 to win and I'm not sure I have the stomach for it. I want to do what's best for our kids and I'm torn between walking away with nothing so they don't have to see an unholy, vindictive mess play itself out but am aware doing that just sends the message to them that bullies win. On a side note his parents have written our kids out of their wills as they do not think of them as part of their family anymore - oddly they still expect contact with them though.

MOSagain Wed 26-Sep-12 14:12:12

sowornout sorry to say it looks like you might have been badly advised. I always told clients starting point is 50% and then a number of factors need to be taken into account.

Collaborate Wed 26-Sep-12 14:33:38

Unfortunately Rottweilers cost a lot of money. Court proceedings are very expensive.

olgaga Thu 27-Sep-12 09:26:40

I think you definitely need a new solicitor! You might find this helpful:

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.

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
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

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.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.

babybarrister Thu 27-Sep-12 19:00:58

If you give us an idea of where you are we could recommend someone

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