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Separation when unmarried with joint mortgage and three DCs

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MNHQ have commented on this thread.

ScabbyBabby Thu 23-Aug-18 15:41:32

Would really appreciate some legal advice (or experience from someone who has been in this situation) on what is the likely outcome of what happens to the house in this scenario.

My children's father and I have separated and he has moved out (verbal abuse and drug use being the predominant reasons but won't go into that here).

We have three children together, ages 10, 8 and 5 and I am and always have been the primary carer. He works long hours and earns good money and can afford to house himself even after child maintenance has been paid.

I am currently on job seekers allowance and frantically looking for a job because I would ideally like to be able to take the mortgage on, on my own, at some point in the near future.

My ex wants to force the sale of the house which is not in the interests of the children. He did put some equity into the house (as did I) but only about £35000, which he is desperate to have back. he doesn't care about the needs of our children, he appears to want to make my life as difficult as possible despite me being the reason that he has been able to dedicate time to his career over the last 10 years.

Where do I stand? If I'm not in the position to be able to buy him out soon, will the courts force the sale despite me not being in a great position to rehouse me and the children?

Thank you.

AdoraBell Thu 23-Aug-18 15:45:08

I think you need to get some actual legal advice. Others here may have been through similar situations, but legal advice would be the best move.

Women’s Aid can is a good place to start.

ScabbyBabby Thu 23-Aug-18 15:52:06

Thank you AdoraBell, I will definitely do so, I would still like to hear from anyone who has been in this position and what the outcome was, I'm feeling mighty anxious. Hoping for some reassurance but realise I might not get the answers I was hoping for.

NotTheFordType Thu 23-Aug-18 18:43:57

Are you married?

sunshinesupermum Thu 23-Aug-18 18:46:25

Read the title of the thread NotTheFordType!

HollowTalk Thu 23-Aug-18 18:46:33

If you're not married then I assume he can force the sale. I think all you're entitled to is child support. He sounds like a real bastard, expecting the kids to move, especially so quickly.

Musti Thu 23-Aug-18 19:05:31

I don't think he can because you have a legitimate interest or something like that. Please speak to a solicitor.

Thatsfuckingshit Thu 23-Aug-18 20:02:25

You need legal advice. There's lot of issues that could change what happens. Wether you can afford to buy him out Would be a big one.

ScabbyBabby Thu 23-Aug-18 20:38:47

Thanks everyone, appreciate the advice.

No, not married NotTheFordType, which is the reason why it's not clear cut at all. I've done a lot of googling but can't find much info on unmarried couples. Think the Children's Act still applies so would hope the welfare of the children would be considered first and foremost and maybe a Mescher Order might apply if I can't buy him out.

That'sFuckingShit (like the username!) I'm expecting (not guaranteed) a lump sum off a close relative in a couple of years time and that person is happy for this to be used to buy ex out of the house. It would just mean having to wait and I would also have until then to get my income to a level where the mortgage company would let me take him off the mortgage.

Would love to hear from those who have been in this situation- there must be lots.

HollowTalk- it's all a game to him- his main concern is with causing me as much stress as possible. Whatever happens now it will never be as bad as living with him was.

NorthernSpirit Thu 23-Aug-18 20:48:19

You weren’t married so unfortunately don’t have the rights a married women has.

Yes, he can force the sake of the house. When you purchased you would have set up a deed of trust (giving your respective shares). This is what you would be entitled to.

Can you afford to buy him out and get a mortgage? This is your only option to stay.

NorthernSpirit Thu 23-Aug-18 20:49:32

A mesher order isn’t applicable to you as you weren’t married.

ACatsNoHelpWithThat Thu 23-Aug-18 21:01:01

OP this link might be useful: www.compactlaw.co.uk/free-legal-information/relationships-family-law/unmarried-couples.html

Even if a Mesher Order applied to you they're often not recommended nowadays as they just defer the housing problem till later when you're that much older and have less time left to pay off a mortgage on a new property.

Have you made any financial contributions to the house yourself?

ScabbyBabby Fri 24-Aug-18 08:31:39

NorthernSpirit, we bought the house as joint tenants and we both put roughly the same amount of equity into it. We each owned and sold our own house to raise the deposit.

It was bought as a family home so that the boys each had their own bedrooms and also because its two minutes away from the secondary school that my eldest wants to go to next year. I am of the understanding that The Children's Act still applies, their welfare should be priority regardless of the parents being married surely?

ACatsNoHelpWithThat, the house is a doer upper- my ex went to work while I looked after the boys, literally did everything house and child related. Also, I've been doing all the work on the house, along with a family member who is in the building trade, so while I haven't been bringing in an income as such, I have added value to the house. Ex literally worked or lay in bed or went out on cocaine/drink binges.

I gave him so many chances to get counselling and sort himself out but I had to call the police to make him leave in the end because his temper was so bad.

He is now trying to lie to the CMS insisting he he is having the children twice a week to reduce maintenance payments.

He left in April and I've being paying the mortgage and bills ever since and he is renting elsewhere.

MaisyPops Fri 24-Aug-18 08:53:28

Youll need specialist legal advice with regards to adding value to the property etc.
Joint tennants should mean a 50/50 split of the sale funds.

In terms of anything else from the break up, as you're not married then you bith take your current lot and leave with all your own assets (which will probably mean he is better off in the split financially).

Have you mentioned the cocaine binges to any services before for support? If so you may have some support there in terms of arranging safe contact with their father, but if not then (sadly) there's nothing to say you aren't an ex making stuff up in a custody battle. Plus he wasn't on cocaine all the time, and someone on his side may say soemthing to the effect of 'it wasn't all the time and you were satisfied turning a blind eye when you were together so why the sudden change?' (Playing devils advocate here by the way).

ScabbyBabby Fri 24-Aug-18 09:13:02

MaisyPops, he is on a huge list of prescribed medication too, anti-depressants, valium, blood pressure medication and I know he told his GP that he felt so angry he thought he might kill someone. I haven't contacted social services, I have thought about it a lot though. It was referred by the police as a matter of course whenever there is a complaint of domestic abuse but they were satisfied that the children weren't in any danger. He loves the children (albeit in his own selfish way) and they love him despite his moods. It's me that he hates because I wouldn't enable his lifestyle and I wouldn't put up with the abuse. The reality is that he will only see them sporadically due to his job, he won't commit to any kind of routine contact- he hates the thought that I might then be able to have plans myself. Even after telling me gleefully that he is having the boys 2 nights a week to reduce maintenance payments, I asked him what night he was having them this week then (calling his bluff) and he said he couldn't he was working. He constantly contradicts himself and forgets what he has said.

My mum helped me clear out his room and the amount of empty bags we found and rolled up cardboard tubes- we're talking hundreds. At the time he was pretending it was a diet drug, but later admitted he had a problem with cocaine. I would imagine, that if I needed to prove it, I could ask him to take a drug test.

I can handle the access issues, it's more wanting to know the likelihood of the boys being able to remain in the family home.

MaisyPops Fri 24-Aug-18 10:35:06

What a mess OP for you and your DC.

If the police have been involved and the GP knows of issues that's actually really good because there is a trail of evidence (by the way I wasn't doubting what you were saying, more posing hypothetical responses if he is dead set on playing games etc).

I'm no expert but I would imagine that you could push for supervised visitation with no overnights, which would have an impact on his maintenance payments (Which might mean you can buy him out). If he's wanting to sell the house based on some weird power trip then you'll need more specialist legal advice than most of us can offer on here.

If possible get everything in text or email (including when he's talking about 2 nights to reduce his CMS), keep it as evidence.

You may want to have a chat with fanily support side of social services about how to move forward with an ex in this situation. They'll probabky be more useful than us on here.

You'll get through it

ScabbyBabby Fri 24-Aug-18 11:09:10

Thank you MaisyPops, that's really helpful advice. I've spent so long putting on a front of being happy and in control, for the sake of the kids, trying to de-escalate (is that even a word? Probably not.) situations so as not to have the kids witness the abuse that I feel almost emotionally numb. I never let the ex see me upset, I don't react emotionally but I try to remain factual, assertive and calm at all times. But the second someone is nice to me it makes me feel like crying. Weird.

Whatever happens, the relief I've felt at him no longer living here is immense. The police were amazing too, so kind.

ACatsNoHelpWithThat Fri 24-Aug-18 11:25:09

It's divorce laws that aim to make things fair in the event of a separation - I am guessing the Children's Act will just want to see your boys adequately housed and with the equity from your house sale you could go into rented - the Act isn't going to be bothered about whether you stay on the property ladder. After all it's not uncommon for kids to have to move. But this is just my speculation.

I agree with MaisyPops that you need proper legal advice. In the meantime I recommend you posting on Wikivorce as they have lawyers and a helpline who will give you free, more informed advice until you can get proper legal advice.

ACatsNoHelpWithThat Fri 24-Aug-18 11:26:28

Oh and flowers, he sounds like a real shit.

ScabbyBabby Fri 24-Aug-18 12:52:17

Thank you ACatsNoHelpWithThat.

ScabbyBabby Fri 24-Aug-18 13:24:42

Have registered on Wikivorce- looks full of detailed information so thanks for that ACatsNoHelpWithThat.

Found this which sounds like there may be a glimmer of hope:

Couples who live together and later separate can only make claims against their former partner’s property by establishing a claim under trust law, which is a complex area of law. They cannot make claims for maintenance for themselves, capital or pensions. Usually their claims are limited to child maintenance and sometimes the provision of a house until the child becomes an adult

I don't want maintenance for me, just the children, and I want reassurance that if I can't get the mortgage in my name that we won't be forced out while the children are school age. The rent here is double the mortgage payment.

ScabbyBabby Fri 24-Aug-18 14:05:45

Found this on Mumsnet, which again suggests the possibility of a court order to allow me and the children to stay in the family home:

^If you are not married or not in a civil partnership and you have an interest in the property (for example, because you have made financial contributions towards it), you have the right to remain in or return to the home. You can obtain a court order to enforce this right.
If you do not have an interest in the property, you do not have an automatic right to remain there. In this situation, your ex-partner can give you reasonable notice to leave, 28 days is considered by the courts to be reasonable. You may want to get legal advice to see whether a court order can be made allowing you to remain in the property for the benefit of your children.^

ACatsNoHelpWithThat Fri 24-Aug-18 14:26:10

The problem is you have no means at the moment to take over the mortgage and you will need money to take him to court even if you represent yourself.

Is there a specific reason the DC have to stay in the house i.e. is it a need or a preference? (not saying they shouldn't - just asking)

ScabbyBabby Fri 24-Aug-18 14:39:19

The house is close to the secondary school that my eldest wants to attend next year. Also close to the primary school that they are all attending now. To move now into rented (easier said than done) would be disruptive for them. They've already had to go through their parents separating, they need as much stability as possible.

I'm applying for jobs now and I'm hoping that I'll be in a position then to be able to take on the mortgage. My salary, realistically, will be about £20k, but there are mortgage lenders that will take maintenance and child benefit into account which might just push my income high enough to be able to take on the mortgage.

I'm very fortunate in one respect; a family member is gifting me a portion of their house in about 2 years time which is enough to cover the money that the ex put into this property with a bit left over. So, if he could just wait, for the sake of the kids, he can have his money back. He would actually be better off too as I've said I would give him exactly what he put in rather than the 50% he is entitled to under the joint tenant agreement.

ScabbyBabby Fri 24-Aug-18 14:41:22

I won't take him to court because it would be better for me to delay things until I'm working and in a better position financially.

He might take me to court though in order to try and force the sale. This is why I'm trying to find out as much as possible in preparation. I will be getting legal advice but would represent myself if it went to court.

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