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Can my friend's (cocklodger) ex-DH get half her pension?

(22 Posts)
stargirl04 Wed 11-Nov-15 12:36:47

Hi,

I'm worried about my good friend, who is upset about her abusive ex-DH. He texted her yesterday to say he wanted to pursue "financial settlement", despite the fact they split up very acrimoniously (on his part, not hers) well over a decade ago.

Their backstory is here (warning, it's long!): www.mumsnet.com/Talk/relationships/2472024-Parental-Alienation-Syndrome-a-horror-story

She remained in the marital home with her DS, then a toddler. But the son moved out a year ago to live with his father. My friend pays her ex about £300 a month in child maintenance.

So now my friend is worried that, not only will her ex get half the sale proceeds of the house (he never paid towards the mortgage), but that he's going to go after her pension too. She has a decent job but because her current partner is one of the "working poor", money is a worry.

She was looking forward to retiring in four years' time but now fears that her ex will scupper that by pursuing her for half her pension, in addition to the house proceeds, meaning she will have to work longer.

While married, she was the breadwinner. He had a few odd jobs then decided to run a food outlet, which failed. For a large proportion of the marriage she paid all the bills and the mortgage, as he refused to get a proper job.

Now he's getting my friend's maintenance money, he's gone off long-term sick from work. My friend thinks he's going to go after her pension, too.

They split up a long time ago but she only divorced him a year ago or so because she was so upset about her son leaving. She has always known the day would come when she would have to sell the house but I'm just wondering if anyone can advise on the pension situation?

Apparently, he has a pension too through his workplace, but my friend's pension will be bigger as she has worked for the same organisation all her life. However, he has also been hinting to his son that he will have to "give up work" because of an "injury".

Any advice greatly appreciated. Many thanks.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 11-Nov-15 13:24:36

She needs legal advice now. If they had no financial consent order then potentially depending on other assets he could get some of her pension.

stargirl04 Wed 11-Nov-15 13:41:44

Thanks Lonecat. I told her yesterday that she needed a lawyer, but she seems to be like a rabbit stuck in the headlights. She says she doesn't have the money for one and will just put it off.

bigmouthstrikesagain Wed 11-Nov-15 13:49:40

CAB relationships section - finances after ending a marriage

The above link has useful information and your friend may benefit from going through it. I would also advise a CAB advice appointment if she can get one. Though they are not legal advisers some bureau have solicitors running sessions. All CAB will be able to provide your friend with details of local solicitors that provide fixed fee services or 30 min advice sessions for free, there are other organisations that may help, an adviser will also be able to help your friend understand the implications of her ex husbands demands.

expatinscotland Wed 11-Nov-15 14:02:31

She's going to have find the money for a solicitor before he does. He may indeed get some of her pension. She sounds awfully young to be considering retiring. Putting this off hasn't done her any favours.

stargirl04 Wed 11-Nov-15 14:17:52

Thanks for this info Bigmouthstrikes - I'll pass it on to my pal.

ExpatinScotland - She's not that young but can retire and get her workplace pension at 55. She's been counting the days to it - or rather she was until this latest development.

expatinscotland Wed 11-Nov-15 14:27:16

'She's not that young but can retire and get her workplace pension at 55. She's been counting the days to it - or rather she was until this latest development.'

Very unrealistic given average life expectancy. Not very clever financially, either. And the fact that this man might well be entitled to it.

MyLifeisaboxofwormgears Wed 11-Nov-15 14:34:31

She needs to get a solicitor - money well spent.
My understanding is that he is only entitled to money she earned while they were married.
Child maintenance will cease when the child is 18 - so I assume he's realised that little earner is ending an dis going after another.
As he is capable of supporting himself he is unlikely to get much, if any of her pension.
If they are divorced and he gives up his job she isn't responsible - only the time they spent married will count.
A good solicitor's letter to him should put him off.

I assume he is manipulating her to just give in and not fight? She needs to fight it all the way.

stargirl04 Wed 11-Nov-15 14:43:12

Mylifeisaboxofwormgears - thanks so much for this - this is very positive news indeed!

Her ex has bullied her for decades and knowing what she is like she will just give in. He usually gets his way simply because he is good at throwing his weight about.

However, if she realises there is a way in which she could prevent him getting her pension, she may go for it - I'll certainly be encouraging her to.

You're quite right about the "nice little earner" of child maintenance coming to an end - that's exactly how he sees it.

AcrossthePond55 Wed 11-Nov-15 14:48:17

So they are divorced, no? Then the first thing she needs to do is look through ALL of her divorce documents to find out if her divorce covered this. Where I am (USA) there is normally something in the orders along the lines of 'forever waives claim/this is final/no further payments or consideration' to show that a spouse can't come back and claim OR it will say 'settlement deferred/no provision is being made at this time/financial issues bifurcated/XXX issue to be revisited to show that things aren't settled permanently. The wording may not be exact, but you get the drift.

I thought these cases of asking for more money after a divorce is final were only if the former spouse had hidden or misrepresented assets during the divorce.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 11-Nov-15 16:25:27

Access in the UK just divorce alone is not enough you need a financial consent order to prevent further money requests.
You say that they only divorced last year so she has to prepare herself for worst case scenario that he has a claim up until then.
Even if solicitors letter gets him to back down paying for a consent order will be worth while to protect herself from future worry.

AcrossthePond55 Wed 11-Nov-15 20:07:34

Thanks Lonecat. Here the financial settlement (I assume it's the same as a consent order) is usually completed during the 6 months waiting period so the settlement is usually part of the final divorce decree. If the couple is still wrangling at the end of the 6 months the divorce usually isn't finalized until they agree on the financial aspect. Bifurcating (finalizing divorce but reserving finalization of the financial issues) is not the norm here and is usually reserved for the 'big money' divorces.

prh47bridge Wed 11-Nov-15 20:40:06

AcrossthePond55 - A Consent Order is when both sides agree the financial settlement and the court simply approves it. If the sides cannot agree the courts will make an order (which is not a Consent Order). The norm here is that the decree absolute (which ends the marriage) doesn't go through until the financial settlement is finalised but there is nothing to stop the parties finalising the divorce without any financial arrangement in place. Unfortunately some people ignore legal advice or go for a do it yourself divorce and don't realise the risks they are taking by not finalising the finances.

OP - I'm afraid the advice from MyLifeisaboxofwormgears is not correct.

All assets will be taken into account in the financial settlement regardless of whether they were acquired before or after the divorce or separation. So the house and her pension will go into the pot. His house and his pension will also go into the pot along with anything else he owns. He may not have realised that.

If this goes to court they will split the assets fairly but that does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. Depending on the circumstances your friend may be entitled to a larger or smaller share.

As he has supported himself for over a decade it is very unlikely that he would be able to claim spousal maintenance. He may still be entitled to a settlement which may include part of your friend's pension if there is no other way of achieving an equitable split. However, if selling the house produces enough funds to give him a fair share there will be no need for him to have any of your friend's pension.

The courts consider his earning capacity in deciding the split, not his actual earnings. If he stops work in the belief he will get a bigger settlement he is likely to be disappointed.

If your friend is paying child maintenance voluntarily she can stop paying whenever she wants. If she is paying through the CSA/CMEC it stops when her son is 16 unless he is in full time education studying for a qualification no higher than A-level or equivalent in which case it continues until either he finishes that education or reaches the age of 20. So if he stays in school child maintenance would finish once he has sat his A-levels.

Above all else your friend needs to get proper legal advice. Avoiding it because she hasn't got the money may end up costing her more later.

AcrossthePond55 Wed 11-Nov-15 21:23:11

Thank you prh47. So then am I correct in assuming that if, for some reason, a divorce was finalized without a consent order or court ordered settlement then a former spouse can, at any time in the future, bring action for financial settlement? That would be concerning, at the very least!

prh47bridge Wed 11-Nov-15 22:46:25

Yes, that is broadly right.

AcrossthePond55 Thu 12-Nov-15 01:08:45

shock Wow! That could be really bad if someone made millions after they were divorced, but I assume an ex would only be able to reopen for the period they were actually married.

Divorce where I live is relatively simple (no fault, 6 months) and pretty well ties up loose ends in and of itself. My ex and I didn't have a specific financial agreement/settlement written in to our divorce basically because we were both poor and neither had a pot to piss in. But there was legalese that said the final decree was 'it' and there was no reopening. Sort of a 'speak now or forever hold your peace'.

Sounds like the OP had better get her divorce papers to a solicitor pronto!

MooseBeTimeForSummer Thu 12-Nov-15 01:47:34

It's broadly right, unless he remarries.

She also needs to make sure that she's notified the pension trustees that he's no longer next of kin.

stargirl04 Thu 12-Nov-15 01:51:11

PRH47Bridge - thanks for clearing that up with such a comprehensive reply. I guess it's not such good news for my friend, but it may still not be as bad as she fears, hopefully. I will encourage her to seek legal advice.

Across the pond: There was a lottery winner several years ago whose ex wife of some ten years crawled out of the woodwork and got £2 million out of him because they did not sign something referred to as a "clean break clause" when they divorced.

www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1331925/Lottery-winner-Nigel-Page-pay-ex-wife-2m-left-10-years-ago.html

AcrossthePond55 Thu 12-Nov-15 02:18:25

Yikes!!

I guess that's another reason why, when DH and I married, I told him he'd better be sure because the only way out of our marriage for him would be in a pine box. I didn't want to go through another divorce.

prh47bridge Thu 12-Nov-15 05:29:59

I assume an ex would only be able to reopen for the period they were actually married

No.

As MooseBeTime says, if an ex-spouse remarries they may no longer be able to claim.

If an ex-spouse can claim what matters is the financial position of the two parties at the time the claim is lodged, not at the time they divorced. There was a case in the Supreme Court this year where a woman was allowed to launch a claim against her ex-husband 20 years after they divorced. At the time of divorce they were broke. He has since set up a business and is now worth over £100M. She wanted £1.9M of that. The Supreme Court decided that she is entitled to claim although she is unlikely to get anywhere near that much. They thought that she might get enough to buy a bigger, mortgage-free house and sent it back to the lower courts to decide the actual settlement.

The OP's case is different in that her friend remained married until a year or so ago. His application for a financial settlement, if he makes one, will therefore be relatively soon after the divorce.

Lessons:

- Don't delay getting divorced
- Don't get the decree absolute until the finances are sorted
- Make sure the financial settlement dismisses all future claims

stargirl04 - It may not be anywhere near as bad as she fears. Without all the facts it is impossible to be sure. It may be that the courts will decide he isn't entitled to anything or only a very small amount from your friend given that they separated so long ago. A solicitor in possession of all the facts will be able to advise her of the likely outcome.

Winterisntcoming Thu 12-Nov-15 11:16:26

First time on MN I've heard child maintenance called a 'nice little earner'

babybarrister Thu 12-Nov-15 22:03:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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