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XH refusing to discuss finances before child custody battle is finished

(10 Posts)
user1475501383 Mon 10-Oct-16 14:34:46

Hi all,

I'm wondering what you all think of the following situation:

We've been separated nearly 2 years with XH, we've got decree absolute so divorced now also, and nearly a year in child arrangements proceedings (XH seeks sole custody, I started out by seeking 50-50 like we'd always done and agreed on previously, but recently it has started to dawn onto me that I'm not even sure if DS is safe with XH as the main carer if there needs to be one, and that perhaps I would be better placed to be the main carer because XH is displaying NPD symptoms and controlling behaviour that may impact DS).

I moved out 2 years ago when he didn't let me on the flight back to UK (I flew back the next day) because he always told me 'if we ever break up there's no way I'm going to move into a flat because it's my deposit in this house'.

XH does not want to even begin sorting out finances before the child arrangements comes to an end. Trouble is, my friend (a father) went to court over his kids for five years. Five years! Surely I'm not meant to wait that long for the finances?

Especially what with several of you lovely Mumsnetters saying that what I experienced was domestic abuse and manipulation (on the Relationships thread 'ExH is seeking sole custody - I'm miserable'), I am thinking that perhaps I should be less laid-back about the 'let's sort the finances out at some point maybe' thing? Especially as I know XH has hidden some of his money on at least two occasions, one last year and one this year. I saw a suspicious email correspondence between him and his father that had taken place shortly after our separation - I saw it when I was using XH's laptop when I was staying there when we contemplated getting back together. Along with that, DS told me that XH has opened two accounts for him, or rather 'I have two bank accounts now' and he seemed to think there was a lot of money in them although with a 9 year old I dunno what they think constitutes a lot of money! I asked XH about the accounts via email a few months back but he didn't elaborate, just said they were for Ds's future, but I am starting to think I have reason to be suspicious.

That said, the finances aren't really at the top of the list what with wanting to have proper contact with DS! However, I am starting to realise that the unresolved finances do impact on my life directly and therefore they possibly impact on DS's life too. The reason he wants to stay more at XH's is, as stated in the guardian's report, that XH has a garden! I am renting a two-bed flat with my DP, no garden. XH has a three bed house with a large garden. I lived there for 5 years, we bought it together and my name's on the mortgage as is his, but I also don't want to be unfair because it was his deposit and life savings that secured him the house.

Furthermore, my DF informed me today he won't be able to continue to fund my ongoing legal representation regarding my child arrangements proceedings with XH. This has made me think about the finances...

XH's stance is that I deserve nothing as 'you would have paid the same money in rent anyway'. It was XH's deposit of his life savings that secured us the house 7 years ago but my name was always on the mortgage as a joint owner and I always paid half the mortgage when I lived there.

When I moved back for some months after the separation, I saw he'd had the house evaluated by an estate agent and that it was considered to be worth £350k. Obviously the bank owns a proportion of the house, I think £100k. XH's deposit was £150k as we bought it for £250k as it was during the house market crash and it needed a lot of work done, all of which XH orchestrated and paid for, although obviously I looked after DS all the times he was doing the house up for over 6 months every weekend etc.

I was meant to sign a deed of trust when we got the mortgage, that upon selling, XH would get his deposit back first and then the rest would be divided equally. However, for some reason it wasn't signed, but ex-FIL made me sign it before he agreed to being a guarantor to the flat I first moved out to. I would have been left homeless if I had not signed it as I needed a guarantor to secure the flat! My parents were the de facto guarantors but because they live abroad they needed ex-FIL as the proxy guarantor, ie they guaranteed to ex-FIL that if anything went tits up they'd pay the rent (which they paid anyway as I currently have limited independent income).

XH also has savings etc, but has refused to give details of anything when my solicitor asked him to fill a finance form, saying that he wanted the custody case solved first.

I am suspecting one of his main reasons for applying for sole custody is that he wants the house signed over to him 100% without paying me anything. I've read that Judges can do this if it is in the children's best interest.

I'm wondering what you all think as I see now that I've gotten so much out of our online conversations with you Mumsnetters, and if I had done that sooner I might not have let things get up to this point with the current court proceedings but would have acted a bit more street-smart.

I would really appreciate any opinions. I have a strong need to be 'fair' and hence volunteered to move out when it was clear that I could not live peacefully with XH. However, this has bitten me up the proverbial arse as XH now uses the 'she abandoned her son/family' argument with the custody proceedings... I have no clarity on the financial situation but am thinking it might be wise to get a bit clued up on what's going on and what I should do to avoid more devastation with my XH.

Also, I am engaged to DP but my lawyer's advice is that we cannot marry before the finances are resolved, so there's that. I would very much like us to marry next summer at the latest.

Also, we only married 1-2 years before the separation, so the house was bought years before we got married. I've read that the length of marriage is relevant in these proceedings? However, we were together for nearly a decade before separating, not sure if that makes any difference.

prh47bridge Mon 10-Oct-16 16:06:53

If he is hiding assets and you can provide evidence of this the courts can set the relevant transactions aside.

Depending on the evidence as to what happened you may be able to argue that you signed the deed of trust under duress which would make it invalid. Even if the courts decide it is valid it won't necessarily govern the division of assets.

Even if he gets sole residence of your child it does not mean he will get 100% of the house. If a fair division of the assets involves you getting some of the equity in the house you may have to wait until your son grows up to get it but you won't lose out.

It is normal for any period of co-habitation to be added to the duration of the marriage, so it is likely, based on the information you have posted, that the courts will regard yours as a long marriage.

Your ex's stance that you don't deserve anything is unrealistic. You are entitled to a fair share of the assets.

HereIAm20 Mon 10-Oct-16 16:16:09

I am assuming that ancillary relief proceedings have actually started prior to decree absolute though?

Namechanger2015 Mon 10-Oct-16 16:30:35

Do you have your decree nisi or your decree absolute? I am not sure you can start any financial remedy claims after you have your absolute, they have to done before the absolute is applied for.

Get some legal advice on this.

prh47bridge Mon 10-Oct-16 17:13:43

I am not sure you can start any financial remedy claims after you have your absolute, they have to done before the absolute is applied for

That is not true. It is normal to sort out finances before the decree absolute but there is nothing to stop it being done later. Google Kathleen Wyatt v Dale Vince for a case where ancillary relief proceedings were started nearly 20 years after divorce.

MrsBertBibby Mon 10-Oct-16 18:07:57

That said, it is crucial that you don't get married before starting your financial claims, as remarriage prevents you from bringing claims.

Just get your financial application issued. This man won't do a deal. He enjoys fighting far too much.

Namechanger2015 Mon 10-Oct-16 21:32:19

Do you have your decree nisi or your decree absolute? I am not sure you can start any financial remedy claims after you have your absolute, they have to done before the absolute is applied for.

Apologies, I got that wrong. Sorry if I caused you any alarm.

user1475501383 Sun 23-Oct-16 17:32:25

Thanks a lot for your advice!

Sorry took me a while to get back to this topic. Yes we have decree absolute and yes thankfully finances can be sorted out after that.

On one hand I want to start financial proceedings ASAP, not least cos I can't marry DP before finances are sorted, and also because I do need money. Also, the standard phrase is 'finances and child arrangements are two separate issues'.

On the other hand, how is the court possibly able to divide finances before it's sorted out what our DS's living arrangements will be? As we're currently in child arrangements proceedings...

From what I understand, the court has a duty to put the child first in financial proceedings, as it should - but how can they decide on that if the child's residence arrangements are currently completely disputed at court proceedings?

MrsBertBibby Sun 23-Oct-16 18:59:19

By assuming that both parents need a home where the child can stay.

Collaborate Mon 24-Oct-16 07:54:01

If the child arrangements will impact upon income or capital needs then the court must decide first what those arrangements will be before making a final financial order. It shouldn't take long to resolve though - certainly not 5 years(!)

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