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When a marriage breaks down after a few months, how does the financial split work?

(28 Posts)
MrsSchadenfreude Tue 24-Jan-17 22:21:56

A friend's husband left her just before Christmas after they had been married for a lot less than a year. They bought a house, and her parents gave them a hefty deposit. He has refused to see my friend since he left, has taken his name off the joint bank account and is no longer paying the mortgage.

My friend went to a solicitor last week to see what her ex was entitled to - was he entitled to half the deposit back, given that the marriage had only lasted a few months, or could she get that back. The solicitor said that he was entitled to half, and half the profits from the sale of the house (she has no problem with this). She doesn't want to live in the house any more, and is moving back in with her parents, but is worried that he will move back into the house and will refuse to sell it, or just refuse to sell it. The solicitor she saw, said that as his name is on the deeds, he is perfectly entitled to do this (despite him no longer paying the mortgage).

Is he entitled to half the deposit back, given the short duration of the marriage? And can he just move back in, despite the fact that he is no longer paying the mortgage (she is paying all of it)? Can she force sale of the house? She has tried to see him, and has emailed, called and texted him. He refuses to see her or to respond to any of her calls/emails and has said (via a friend) that he won't consider mediation.

Does anyone have any advice please?

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Tue 24-Jan-17 22:25:49

As they've been married less than a year your friend should seek an annulment. I think it will help her case for each of them walking away with what they put in.

MrsBertBibby Tue 24-Jan-17 22:33:05

Is your friend living in England/Wales, or elsewhere?

ImperialBlether Tue 24-Jan-17 22:43:53

She mustn't forget to take the contributions he should have paid into the mortgage from the amount he gets.

I'd be buggered if he'd have half of the deposit. Surely there's a way around that?

MrsSchadenfreude Tue 24-Jan-17 22:51:07

MrsBert, she's in England.

She felt that the solicitor was being very dismissive of her, and almost on her ex's side - he told her that the payment of the deposit by her parents (£50K) was "a gift of the wedding" and as such should be split equally between them.

Can they get an annulment? I'll suggest she looks into this.

GinIsIn Tue 24-Jan-17 22:55:16

I don't think she meets the criteria for annulment -
www.gov.uk/how-to-annul-marriage/when-you-can-annul-a-marriage

Can her parents perhaps frame the deposit as a loan?

KatyBerry Tue 24-Jan-17 22:57:10

my father in law's wife left him after 3 months of marriage. Despite the court uncovering proof that she was simultaneously planning the wedding and squirrelling cash away for a deposit on a property to move into away from him, and was having an affair - she got pretty much half which was a seven figure sum. They'd had a long prior relationship which was a significant factor, her atrocious / deceitful conduct was apparently not.

Spam88 Tue 24-Jan-17 22:59:00

I don't think the length of the marriage has any bearing at all, but my understanding was that the only thing that doesn't get split 50/50 is wedding gifts, which are retained by the person whose family gifted them?

ASqueakingInTheShrubbery Tue 24-Jan-17 23:05:52

The criteria that the court consider are set out in section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, and length of marriage is one of those factors. The main consideration is meeting the parties' needs, and ahead of that the needs of the children if there are any. The house is a matrimonial asset and therefore open to being shared out, but a short marriage and unequal contributions to the house will be taken into account. I'd suggest a second opinion from another solicitor, if she feels that she was brushed off.

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 25-Jan-17 09:05:31

Thank you all. Does anyone know if he can just move back in, despite not paying the mortgage, and refuse to leave/have the house sold?

MrsBertBibby Wed 25-Jan-17 09:08:01

Yes, he can move back in, and yes, he can refuse to sell, in which case an order for sale will have to be sought. Did they share a home before they married? If so, for how long?

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 25-Jan-17 09:17:36

No, they didn't share a house before they married. Her parents paid the deposit for the house as a wedding present, and paid for the whole wedding. If he is refusing to engage at all, presumably everything will have to be done through solicitors, at vast expense.

Redglitter Wed 25-Jan-17 09:24:27

As they've been married less than a year your friend should seek an annulment.

On what grounds from what the OP has posted would her friend be eligible for an annulment? It's not based on the length of the marriage

tribpot Wed 25-Jan-17 09:28:50

I think Milk was thinking of the fact the marriage cannot be ended in the first year except by an annulment (if eligible).

EpoxyResin Wed 25-Jan-17 09:37:18

Well contrary to pp my solicitor told me that the starting point for a financial split was 50/50, but that factors such as short duration of a marriage are taken into account when a judge decides if what's been arranged is fair to both parties.

I really think for just a few short months your friend should find a solicitor believes she should aim to get back what she put in; mine did, and I'd been married a couple of years. I'd put 75k into a house. I kept every penny and the house.

I guess the solicitor is saying the money from the parents was a gift to the married couple, not to their daughter, so should be split between the two. With the parents' agreement that the gift was intended for their child you could certainly argue that in the divorce. I would!

MrsBertBibby Wed 25-Jan-17 10:44:53

I think your friend should see a different solicitor. Sometimes we have to give advice the client doesn't want to hear, but there are ways of doing that which make the client feel supported.

Back in the day, short marriages were generally looked at on the basis that the court would try to put people back where they would have been. Since a case called Miller, that's less clear. Ultimately, there is no right answer, however, I would be surprised to see a court sharing the funds from her family equally, in the absence of some other unusual facts.

If she is living in the house, it's fair enough she pays the mortgage, but she should seek credit for any reduction in the overall debt. That said I imagine if a sale happens now there will be a huge early redemption penalty?

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 25-Jan-17 10:53:11

Yes, MrsBB, it looks like there would be an early redemption penalty. My friend is open to any suggestions - renting it out and selling in a couple of years, but unfortunately he won't engage at all, either by email or in person.

She has no problem paying the whole mortgage, but the mortgage provider won't (she says) give her a mortgage on her own salary as on paper, she can't afford it.

If he would speak to her, it would be a lot easier to sort out!

MrsBertBibby Wed 25-Jan-17 11:12:13

Yes, but clearly, he won't, so she needs to get a grip of the situation. Letting him drag things out isn't going to improve her situation one bit. She needs to have divorce papers ready to go in as soon as their anniversary somes around.

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 25-Jan-17 11:18:19

I'll suggest she finds another solicitor for a second consultation. She said the man she saw was patronising and made her feel about 12.

babybarrister Wed 25-Jan-17 16:50:56

If you give us an idea of where she is then we can suggest people

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 25-Jan-17 23:24:49

She's in Kent, BabyBarrister. Canterbury/Ashford direction rather than close to London direction.

MrsBertBibby Thu 26-Jan-17 06:59:32

Oooh now I so want to know who the arse was!

MrsBertBibby Thu 26-Jan-17 07:05:25

Don't say obviously!

thecapitalsunited Thu 26-Jan-17 07:21:19

Does it not depend on how the house is held between them? I bought property with my soon to be DH shortly before we got married and asked about how to protect his deposit contributions which were far above mine. Our solicitor told us the best way was to buy as tenants in common with a defined equity split via a deed of trust but that would only be considered if we split up after a short period of time. We ended up buying as joint tenants because we didn't want to go into marriage looking to divorce so we both own 50%. If we divorced I could take part of my DHs deposit because legally I do own half the house. I'm still glad that we clarified the situation before the marriage so that everyone knew where they stood.

babybarrister Thu 26-Jan-17 07:30:47

Once you are married any trust deed is likely to be wholly irrelevant ....

Re suggestions for lawyers - Jones Nickolds in Bromley are very good or Kingsfords or Girlings

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