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Divorce/Financial Settlement: Cannot afford solicitors

(56 Posts)
KateDillington Tue 02-Apr-13 10:31:40

Well that's it really. I can't afford it. I'm not entitled to Legal Aid as there is no DV involved.

I've posted on here a few times. I'm in the middle of sorting the financial settlement (20 year marriage, now DH will not disclose so I have filed form A to start financial settlement).

He/his solicitor are being very obstructive (will not answer any questions about finances).

I've spoken to several local solicitors. They have all been very NICE but have all said the same thing (which has surprised me) - that I should represent myself. They've all quoted between 10-50k for their own fees. One said to me today: "To be blunt, for what you are arguing over (we had cash of around 60k joint savings) using a solicitor will be disproportionate as you won't have anything left to argue about."

We have 50:50 shared care of the children. I just want 50% of the value of the house / savings / pension (which he can easily afford). I gave up my career to bring up the children for ten years, but I just want a clean 50% break.

I guess that I just have to get on with it, but on MN I've been told to get legal representation to sort this - but it does seem (with the amounts quoted) that this is just not viable.

Any advice? (Maybe I should just shut up and get on with it!)

I guess I just want someone to tell me it will be ok. sad

RedHelenB Tue 02-Apr-13 15:17:58

Has your ex indicated what settlement he would be happy with? Is the cash still in a joint savings account? If so personally I would transfer half into an account in my own name & let your ex tske on any legal stuff.

Xenia Tue 02-Apr-13 16:11:35

What will he accept? Often it is best to split the difference rather than giving the money to lawyers.

How much is the pension worth? If not much then given a pension valuation may well cost over £1k you may have to leave that as his property and try to get a bit more cash then 50% instead or it may be you feel if you work until you are 70 full time like most of us have to you can build up your own pension entitlement anyway.

Have his lawyers said if they will do a pension sharing order or give you say a fifth the value of the pension pot in lieu?

At some point in most divorces whether you use lawyers or not you simply have to reach agreement with your other half. So have his solicitors made you an offer and if so what is it?

Collaborate Tue 02-Apr-13 17:12:16

You don't say how much the pension is worth. It may dwarf the other assets. It would be false economy not to take some advice at an early stage, in particular financial advice regarding the pension. Pensions law on divorce is a very complex area.

babybarrister Tue 02-Apr-13 17:25:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KateDillington Tue 02-Apr-13 17:53:35

Thanks everyone.

I am happy to do a 50/50 split of everything, but he wants me to accept as little as possible. He made me move out and I'm currently living in a tiny rented flat with no wardrobes etc. I can't afford to buy furniture! He doesn't want his life to change. I really have sympathy but we've both moved on - I moved out over a year ago.

His pension dwarfs the other assets - he was a director in the civil service and we put all our savings into his pension a few years ago. He has offered me 30% of the pension, half of the house equity and none of the savings.

It's all in his name.

He earns twice my salary. I tried to keep up with part-time work but once the babies were born, I just couldn't do it.

babybarrister Tue 02-Apr-13 18:17:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

nkf Tue 02-Apr-13 18:23:19

Can you afford not to have a solicitor? That's what it seems to me. You could take what he offers and start again. But it does sound a bit unreasonable to me. Could it work for you? Sorry, not very helpful. Will you be able to work now?

RedHelenB Tue 02-Apr-13 18:28:54

Well if everything is in his name then I think you may well need to use a solicitor if he won't co operate because you may well find that he's busy spending the savings & time could be of the essence! I'm confused - you say there were £60,000 in joint savings, then you say everything was in his name, then you say all the savings were put into his pension. I can sort of see why a solicitor said what they said!

KateDillington Tue 02-Apr-13 18:34:22

Sorry for confusion - it WAS joint savings but everything was in his name as he did all the finances. I think he HAS spent most of it - he has been going on holiday with his partner and buying her presents.

All savings WERE transferred to his pension - about ten years ago. After that, you weren't allowed massive transfers into the civil service pension scheme - those 'in charge' recognised it as a lucrative loophole (effectively buying 'years of service').

I couldn't buy a house on what he has offered. I would have to rent. I really want to buy a house - I've always done up the houses that we've lived in, and gardening used to be my hobby. It's also somewhere stable for the children.

Solicitors are all quoting up to 50k for the 'full service'. If I go down that route, it will wipe out the settlement.

KateDillington Tue 02-Apr-13 18:37:10

I have been working full-time for the last three years but I have just been made redundant. I'm also on a low salary as I work in the charity sector.

RedHelenB Tue 02-Apr-13 19:11:48

I think in your case I would start the ball rolling with the sol;icitors as it may scare him into negociating a better deal for you because the lawyers costs come out of any joint assets and something is definitely better than nothing. Could you afford the mortgage on the current house for eg?

KateDillington Tue 02-Apr-13 20:24:14

I couldn't afford the mortgage on the FMH (where he is living) - and I wouldn't want to anyway - too many grim memories to be honest.

The FMH would be far too big for what I would need/afford.

I have contacted a few solicitors but I cannot even afford the deposit. I really can't afford to pay the thousands required for bills and he has made it clear that he won't resolve this and wants it to go to court.

RedHelenB Tue 02-Apr-13 20:33:30

You'll have to do it yourself then - have you any paperwork connected to the savings, mortgage etc. You need to register your interest on the FMH if it is solely in his name too to stop him transferring it to OW or anything dodgy like that. I would assume the savings have been spent so really you are wanting the FMH sold, him to give you enough equity for a deposit what?

At least with the Civil service the pension will be transparent - how many years till he claims it? And the lump sum of course!

KateDillington Tue 02-Apr-13 20:43:27

He could claim the civil service pension in a few years' time.

I am fairly confident about doing things myself and have paperwork re. the mortgage. Nothing re. savings but he will have to lodge Form E and I KNOW what the situation was in terms of finances when I left, which was now actually 18 months ago.

The house is in our joint names.

He can afford to pay me enough for a large deposit for a house - I know that he has arrangements for a remortgage in place, and can easily afford it. So he doesn't have to sell the home.

babybarrister Tue 02-Apr-13 22:14:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Collaborate Tue 02-Apr-13 22:35:26

£50,000 sounds outrageously high unless there is a whole lot more to it than you are letting on. I'd say £10-15k assuming he stubbornly refuses to settle all the way to the door of the court.
As a starting off point you ask for 50%, and then more as capitalised spouse maintenance if there's such a large income imbalance.

cjel Tue 02-Apr-13 22:53:55

I've got settlement agrement through solicitors for about £1,ooo 1st appt was free and then so much for each letter, call and email. Divorce is about £500 I think. I'd suggest starting the procedure and hope he'll defend and have to pay.

KateDillington Tue 02-Apr-13 23:40:57

Collaborate: They are all saying "up to" 50k but around 10-15k.

XH is only speaking to me via solicitors. If we both spend 15k, then I may as well not bother, because that will be 30k and the savings were 60k.

The problem is that I really need the house equity plus half the savings in order to buy a house - otherwise I won't be able to afford it.

Xenia Wed 03-Apr-13 08:27:30

Yes, just do it yourself. It seems pretty likely you will get at least half the assets. Sounds like he has spent the savings so you can get a pension sharing order on his pension (it is not the same as giving you a cash lump sum) and it should be 50% of his pension at retirement age not 30%.

Do what C says - ask for 50% of the assets (and pension sharing order - 50%) and then a sum for capitalised maintenance - my ex husband got about 60% of our assets (I earn more).Does your husband pay you monthly now given you have been made redundnant? If not you can apply to the court immediately for immediate maintenance for you if he works and you don't. You could write to his lawyers saying you are offering you want say 70% of the assets and you will not then claim on the pension or ask for regular maintenance or you will go for 50% of assets plus a pension sharing order 50% and on going maintenance until the pensions kick in and if they do not accept in 21 days then you will apply to court for this plus immediate maintenance payments.

babybarrister Wed 03-Apr-13 08:29:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Collaborate Wed 03-Apr-13 09:11:38

And go for equal incomes, not equal transfer values.

KateDillington Wed 03-Apr-13 09:48:40

I really don't want to lose the pension, as I don't have any except tiny ones, and his is considerable.

We have the children 50:50 (he made sure of that) and he would go hysterical if I asked for maintenance. I just want a clean split of 50% of everything.

Thanks all for your advice. smile

cjel Wed 03-Apr-13 11:05:58

I have clean break and had larger share of house sale to cover my pension and other things. If you take money instead of pension you will have plenty to put towards new home.

KateDillington Wed 03-Apr-13 13:32:40

I can't really take money instead of the pension or I will be stuffed in 20 years, as we paid all our contributions into his pension instead of mine about ten years ago (funnily enough I wrote a thread on MN about it at the time, worrying about what would happen if we split up!!!).

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