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Totally overwhelmed by the legal stuff – just want to get on and be happy.

(6 Posts)
SheerWill Sun 26-May-13 08:29:17

Firstly, thank you for taking some time out of your busy lives to look at my post. I have been separated from my h for just over a year. We have 1 ds who is now 3. Just after ds was born, exh lost any interest in being a family as he’d set up his own IT company with two friends. I in effect became a single mother – a widow to his new company. I ended up having to go back to work earlier than I wanted to because he took a paycut to work for himself full time. I had to stop breastfeeding ds much earlier than I would have liked (4 months) so I could return to work full time. I missed out on ds first steps and other experiences I will never get back, so exh could live his dream of running his own company and working for himself. Teaching in a primary school full time while trying to juggle everything else has resulted in anxiety and depression which is now being treated with antids.

We finally separated in Feb last year (Valentines day actually - classy isn't he). We had our last mediation session Monday and he wants me to sign an agreement that I will not lay any claim to his company if he doesn’t lay any claim to my house (always been in my name but 40% shared ownership and interest only mortgage so no money in it, bought for 170,000, worth 175,000 now). He’s offered me £6k to pay off half the matrimonial debt I have incurred during the marriage. Exh has been very reasonable about money and pays more than I would get through the CSA (£450 per month which is £150 over what I’ve calculated I would get). However, exh is also incredibly intimidating and manipulative and I don’t trust him. If this is what he has offered I’m wondering if this is truly a good deal. I’m not really interested in money or screwing him over, but I want to reduce as much of my debt as possible so I can give ds the best quality life possible. I’ve been given some paperwork through the mediators but will hopefully get more when we draw up the Memorandum of Understanding before solicitors take over. It’s a limited company worth approx. £60,000 from what I can see and he has 1 share of 34%. Can I ask to see all the books and have an accountant look over them to see the true value of the company?

I'm so confused and tired trying to juggle everything, I can't cope with stretching my mind any futher. At least its half term (yay I get to spend a week writing the end of year reports while ds plays at his childminders - roll on the summer hols).

Xenia Sun 26-May-13 12:47:45

Poor you. It sounds very hard. I went back to work at 2 weeks but could express breastmilk at work. That must be harder to do in schools I expect.

Who pays the childcare costs? Surely that is the biggest expense - a ful time nursery place in London can be £14k and £10k out of London £450 a month would barely pay half of those never mind her food although perhaps your ex has her every other week and pays child minding costs when he has her. I don't know.

On valuing the business do you know what its turnover is? I expect it does not make much profit. Do you know what dividends he has had out of the business in the last year? Do you know what assets it has - eg hsd he written source code which is owned by the company? Does it own expensive land or equipment - I doubt it but worth checking.

If his income is likely to be £100k in a year and yours about £30k then you probably do not want a clean break but instead to have regular maintenance of you as well as the child. If his income is virtually nothing now and no idea if it will be higher later but not clear I still think it can be wise to have clean breaks so that if you win the lottery next year or your income increases he cannot come back for more money and vice versa and you are both starting from scratch with no maintenance to the other spouse. Psychologically it can be better too. So it sounds like in mediation you have agreed this clean break deal - you get the house and he pays £6k - I presume there are £12k debts in your name or something like that and he is paying half those off. You are left with £175k house with £5k equity - actually asy ou are keeping that equity I suppose his £6k means he is paying off 100% of the debts on top of the mortgage. Will the mortgage company let him come off the mortgage? If they would refuse then the whole deal could be scuppered so worth checking that out.

New small businesses tend to be worth very little. you could try to argue you want 50% of his 34% and then dividends as other shareholders get over the years but that si going to go down like a lead balloon and it is not as if you wrote the software or worked 50 hours a week on the business so is probably not fair anyway.

Sorry about your mental health problems. I am not sure working full time whilst having chidlren does make people depressed. I suspect many women are much more likely to be depressed if they are at home full time and not working actually so may be having to work full time has done you some benefits and it will have preserved your income and career I suppose.

SheerWill Sun 26-May-13 20:13:45

Thanks for the reply.
We split the childcare costs 50:50. It is a massive expense but has recently reduced as ds 3 now gets his 15 free hours per week. We both pay direct to the child minder separately and always have done so that continues.

I have been given some paper work but not all involving the business. Im hoping I will have it all by the time we go to the solicitors but I’d like an accountant to look over it first. It makes enough to employ exH his 2 friends and 3 others, plus they lease a premises in Newbury and London, all have lease cars. They all pay themselves minimum but make it up in dividends. It’s an IT company so they do own equipment but not sure of the value. How could I find out?

When he first started the company he took an initial paycut but was still earning approx. £30k – similar to me. This has since gone up but don’t know by how much. Even when we were together, he was very cagey about money and he has huge debts which he racked up before the marriage.

He has never been on the mortgage for my house as it was always in my name and I didn’t offer to put him on as his credit history was so bad. I know I didn’t invest any money or time in the business myself, but I did all the other work aka raise his son, bring in an income, run the household, walk the dog – silly I know, but if I’d died in childbirth or left him there’s no way he could have started up this company and/or go self employed (isn’t that worth anything?)

babybarrister Sun 26-May-13 20:33:01

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

RedHelenB Mon 27-May-13 09:23:33

Sounds like the worth of the company is HIM so you may well not be entitled to much. On the face of it it seems reasonable enough but as has been pointed out a solicitor will be well placed to advise you. Going back to work early will have no bearing on any financial decisions & as a teacher you will be viewed as well capable of earning your own living & I suspect there would be no need for spousal maintenance. If you go for a clean break the house stays yours &n any bad money decisions on his part don't impact on you. ( child maintenance payments are seen as priority if say he were made bankrupt.)

Xenia Mon 27-May-13 09:48:09

I agree RH - most of these kinds of companies at least in the early days are just the worth of the individual. It might go on and make millions just as you might if you founded a uK wide network of schools but at present with everything just leased it will be worth very little.

More worrying is that he has huge debts from before the marriage. Is that separate from the £12k matrimonial debt accrued during the marriage? I suppose there is a risk that you take the family assets which seem to be £5000 equity in the house only and you take off the £12k matrimonial debt and his pre marriage debts and are left with zero assets between you when it's evened out. It does not sound as if he wants to pay those debts of his own out of the small equity in the house.

I think on balance a clean break now as proposed in the mediation is a fair deal with perhaps agreement yo both pay half the childcare costs. You may go into full time work which is not teaching in due course and have 7 weeks of child care over the summer to pay for full time of which he should pay half. Our consent order said I pay all the school and university fees as I earn more but in your case you both earn currently about the same. However if you think his income is going to get pretty massive soon then you might rather have say £100 a month maintenance for yourself so that when he get up to £400k a year income you can apply to the court for more for yourself if you have not remarried or cohabited, whereas if you get a clean break now neither has claims against the other later (except for children). On the other hand if true to his past form he does much worse and ends up on the dole then if you have maintenance he may come back for some from you later unless you have a clean break although I suppose he could do 100% of the childcare if he lost his job.

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