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Divorcing your ( house ) husband.....

(28 Posts)
mozhe Wed 17-Jan-07 12:34:29

My sister is the the breadwinner in her household,( she earns in excess of 200k a year ), her husband of 10 years gave up his job,( much less potentially lucrative than his wifes' ), when the first of their 4 children was born,( he is now 10 ).They are now separated and he is instigating divorce proceedings....she is left ' holding the baby',( quite literally as they also have 18 month triplets as well as their 10 year old...), working punishingly long hours whilst he has fled to their holiday home in France...with a ' younger model '. She has hired a fulltime nanny, and a 'hotsho't lawyer...but the latter is being cagey about what she can expect. Will she be taken to the cleaners ? Her future costs have just sky rocketed...fultime nanny, relief nanny,the sole responsability of providing for all the school fees/university etc...he was always ' just about ' to go back to work/ earning ££ but actually i don't think he ever intended to do so BUT his parents are very wealthy and my sister always thought there would be a windfall in the future from this.He is an only child but has a poor relationship with his parents,( they haven't disinherited him though ), and they don't speak to my sister, and have never met their grandchildren, they are in their 80s and in bad health. Anyone got any experience of this sort of divorce scenario ? I'm worried that she is not getting the best advice,( although lawyer is specialist/well known and charges £££++ !), and about the terrible burden on her now...she has a serious health problem too which stress will very likely exacerbate.

Twiglett Wed 17-Jan-07 18:32:59

I would say .. he's entitled to half

BUT she has sole care of the children so that will be taken into account in that they need house and expenses

she should have a firm word with her lawyer .. they are workign for HER .. she needs to know possible outcomes .. if they aren't forthcoming with information now then how can she trust them to do the job

if they don't answer her questions then she should look elsewhere I would have thought

beckybrastraps Wed 17-Jan-07 18:36:27

You need to talk to Xenia. She had to pay off her ex. Although he did work, but was not as handsomely rewarded.

mozhe Thu 18-Jan-07 10:19:14

You are right BeckyBS ! I had forgotten Xenia's 'back story', she is pretty involved on another thread right now, something to do,( well originally...you know how it goes on mn..!), with staying off sick with your kids...I wonder how to attract her over here....XENIA ! XENIA !...What would mn do without her...hope she comes over as v.worried about my sister at the moment. I agree Twiglett...whenever I have used lawyers I have been pretty bullish about knowing the low-down, and won't be fobbed off with stuff I don't understand etc. I have said as much to her, but she is ++ impressed about this guy's reputation,( and the big bucks he charges too...odd how that impresses even intelligent people in relation to lawyers,whereas with doctors they tend to think you are heartlessly ripping them off...oh well..), and I really want to go with her but am over the channel in France. I could come back, actually I think I'll put that to her....

mumblechum Thu 18-Jan-07 11:11:47

In the cases of MacFarlane and Miller, House of Lords decisions last summer, wealthy husbands were in both cases ordered to pay signigficant maintenance/lump sums to wives who had sacrificed their careers in order to support their husbands. The idea of "compensation" came in really for the first time since White v White (2001) finally established the idea of equality being the starting point in big money cases.

In your sister's case, because she's been left with the kids, I'd argue that any maintenance she should pay him (and I'd be trying not to pay him any), should be very modest and very short term. Presumably if he'd stayed in employment he would have progressed in his career, and now he's starting from the bottom rung, so he'll argue that he should receive something to cushion him while he builds his career up again.

So far as capital division is concerned, the starting point is that everything (inc. her pension) should be split equally, but you then have to think how that presumption of equality should be departed from, eg. her need for childcare costs, a much bigger house than him.

She should, in the first instance, ask her solicitor to get counsels opinion at this stage.

If she's in London, she could try Jeremy Posnansky or Nicholas Mostyn, both QCs and extremely expensive. Otherwise, any barrister with at least 5 years specialism will be able to give good advice.

If however she has no confidence in her solicitor she should check out the family law specialist's website www.resolution.org.uk. Any decent family specialist will be registered with Resolution.

mozhe Thu 18-Jan-07 11:46:28

Thank you mumblechum...she is in London, and I've passed on those two names to her. The rest of your advice is gratefully received too. I think her solicitor is probably very good, we are probably just imagining the worst case scenario and panicking.His career would probably never have amounted to much £££s wise as it was an artisan type thing, and he had no buisness sense/acumen...I think all his life he has been ' hanging around' waiting to collect on his parents. To be honest,( I know this sounds pretty awful..), so was my sister..a bit. I guess she saw it a bit as his financial contribution to bringing up the children/their old age etc..Now she is angry that she will never see any of that, but will it be 'taken into consideration' in the financial settlement ? He has just announced his girlfriend is pregnant,and she has a very low paid job...they intend to live in the house iin France, which my sister bought outright for cash...surely that can't be right ?

mumblechum Thu 18-Jan-07 12:05:50

If an inheritance is very imminent, it may be taken into account, but of course it doesn't come into the equation in the same way that, eg, savings do, because the inheritance is not guaranteed, ie the parents could at any time cut the husband out of their wills.

So far as the house in France is concerned, she should probably take some advice from a French matrimonial lawyer. If it was in this country, he could register an interest in it at the Land Registry if it's in her sole name.

Judy1234 Thu 18-Jan-07 13:08:07

What mumblec says is right (except I'm not sure counsel probably would add much). Also it is similar to my position. The first thing you should always do in these types of cases is sit down with a calculator and think what is the difference between what he wants and I want and what will the legal costs be if we fight this. Mr Miller paid I think about £1m in fees. I had dinner with a man whose wife had used my lawyer and his wife had paid £200k. My ex husband and I settled because I'd rather he had the money than lawyers doing interesting test cases about high earnings wives.

My ex husband has also chosen to give up the provision of all those services he gave to the family. He was not a house husband but he was by that time working as my PA/part time (and that wasn't valued in the divorce) and did a lot of child care for our 5 although we had a full time nanny.

There was an article in the Weekend FT about a year or two ago of mothers in this position and sadly some of them lost their children. That was my greatest worry at all - not the money at all - that because you work and your husband stays home he gets the chidlren to live with him and women have got only very limited contact in those cases. it's the risk women take with house husbands and the risk men take with stay at home mothers. So it seems unlikely your sister will be turfed out of her home, her husband claim the house and children and move the new lover in? But presumably that shoudl be her biggest fear actually in reality.

Also does she want rid of him? He may tire of the lover and move back. May be best not to rush anything. My ex husband got more than 50% because he was giving up a maintenance claim on my earnings over the next 20 - 30 years and that was relfected in the pay out to him. I think he got nearer 60% and in fact in a sense it's more than 60% because our deal was he doesn't pay anything for them ever so if you add in my lost child maintenance then it's even higher but at least I am not paying him now.

Anyway I think she should get a calculator out and look at costs and risks and possbile legal fees and then negotiate with him and keep the lawyers in the background as much as possible and give them limited tasks to do but don't let the legal fees get too high.

Your sister's position is dfiferent from mine in that she has suddnely had to pay a nanny. We had one so I didn't have that cost but to pay him out I had to take out a mortgage of over £1m. That has been a massive extra cost (to keep the house and house the 5 children. The inheritance is irrelevant as it is a future possibility.

She also needs to add up all her and her husband's assets and debts to find out the net capital sum they have as a start.

mozhe Thu 18-Jan-07 13:14:26

Thanks again mumblechum...they are pretty old/ill 87&89,one with advanced cancer,the other with ditto alzheimers...he hardly ever goes near them, but they live in France too and you cannot disinherit your children there,I think....You've been v.helpful..

mozhe Thu 18-Jan-07 13:14:53

Thanks again mumblechum...they are pretty old/ill 87&89,one with advanced cancer,the other with ditto alzheimers...he hardly ever goes near them, but they live in France too and you cannot disinherit your children there,I think....You've been v.helpful..

Judy1234 Thu 18-Jan-07 13:18:47

I think if the divorce happens before the death a future possible inheritance is not taken account of. He might die before his parents. Obviously she might choose to put it into the discussions. The law is unclear and you do horse trading, that's what we did, just like a business negotiation and you're balancing is the sum at stake so high the legal fees to argue that point and 2 - 3 years delay would be worth it etc

She should do the obvious immediate things like make sure he's not in a position to run up credit card debts or clean out their bank accounts.

mozhe Thu 18-Jan-07 13:38:41

Sorry about double post but mn here in France is a bit slower than I'm used to....Thanks Xenia..I don't think he will ' claim ' the children, the triplets were the result of IVF which he wasn't keen on, he was even less keen when he discovered there were 3 on the way ! He was quite happy pottering about the house with one school aged child, making the odd bookcase/table etc. Things went steadily downhill when the babies arrived,( the mat nurse was kept on for 12 weeks !! if you've ever emploted one of those you'll know what I mean ! ), and he couldn't cope even with aupair/cleaner etc. Also he now has another on the way, which he doesn't sound best pleased about..Also one of the babies has a significant disability,which again he found impossible to cope with. His girlfriend is very young, so can't see her wanting to take on all of that...still one thing worries me, and that is the older child to whom he was close,and presumably could say he had bought up etc., much more than my sister, hmmm.
It's interesting what you say re;keeping the legal to a minimum, because mine and her instinct was to go in there with all,( legal ), guns blazing....hence hiring really good solicitor/counsel...but Xenia you are a lawyer, whereas she is not...surely that makes a difference ? She doesn't want him back, he has been having affairs on and off all their married lives, and this last one has been going on for over a year. Also he will be a nightmare to negotiate with, he's impossible to have a reasonable discussion with at the best of times...Also he will probably get his dad to fork out for his legal representation...she has no choice but to go in with a big name too.
The calculator exercise is a good idea, dh is in London so they are going to go threw the rudimentaries asap together. I think this is going to be really stressful for, and she has a very high pressured city job to keep ticking over....

Bugsy2 Thu 18-Jan-07 13:42:24

mozhe, in this scenario quite alot will depend on which parent will be having custody of the children. The court's priority is housing for the children & the primary carer.
The lawyer, quite rightly, will be cagey about what she can expect because divorce is a notoriously grey area. Although £200k income sounds quite alot, it isn't really mega bucks & certainly won't come into the category of the very wealthy cases which were cited in the papers last year. Those were cases where net income exceeded the needs of the families. I would imagine by the time housing costs are met, nannies are paid etc etc that there won't be much change out of that £200k.
Expected inheritance can sometimes be taken into consideration if it is going to be a very considerable sum of money in the relatively imminent future.

ProfessorGrammaticus Thu 18-Jan-07 13:46:22

Don't go in there with all guns blazing. Negotiate if possible. He won't ever disappear - the triplets are very young and your sister has to work alongside him for years. Press for an indication of the likely outcome from the solicitor, then use that in discussions with the husband if you can.

(I am divorce lawyer!)

mozhe Thu 18-Jan-07 13:55:37

She has done all those things re; bank accounts/credit cards...in fact he must have v.little money at his disposal, though he has taken their brand new range rover..and one very valuable item from their home, which to be fair was left him by his grandmother..And he is living in a house my sister bought out right from a bonus, but it is in joint names...
To get away from all the nitty gritty...I wonder how she and the children will get through this....he was there an awful lot, and now he isn't...negotiating in a reasonable manner sounds great but somehow can't see it happening here.I've already referred her to a great psychotherapy colleague in London for professional help.I'm still thinking we should really go for it with the legal power...and get in there early..Very preoccupying me all of this today ! One ill twin today too...BUT only a cold !
The P-in-Ls are very wealthy....millions I should think, but I take your point there.

Judy1234 Thu 18-Jan-07 13:57:25

Yes, the lawyers are really saying here don't have too big a fight. Also he might as you suggest want the 10 year old to live with him and might want the house for that. This is not law I do so I'm not the best person to advise but I found a bit out about it in my own case.

What I would be doing with her would be looking at their net asset. So let's take a guess - house in London with a mortgage and perhaps unmortgaged house in France, may be a few savings but perhaps not massive. Perhaps she has a rasonable pension and he doesn't but we'll leave that aside for now. So imagine their joint assets after taking off loans are say £600k. The children need to be housed - 4 children and let's assume they will live with her as he's run off with the other woman (although once he realises he might get the house and 25% of her income for the chidlren if he has the 4 children with him he may be rushing back home to claim children and house and turf her out....

So we half the £600k and say does £300k give you the ability to house 4 children. In my case our house was much bigger than the basic house you need for 5 children so I could have been forced to sell the house. I could just about afford to remortgage and pay him off however. So they may have to sell the house and move to something smaller. Perhaps they could negotiate that he gets the French house and she the English house and have a clean break no maintenance claimed from him to her. That would be a good deal for her I'm sure if she could get it. My husband's lawyers started with 50% each and then his maintenance claims as I earned about 10 times more. Mrs Macfarlane got £250k a year for life plus half the assets. her husband's income was £750k. She didn't work. But she does look after the children which is the interesting difference in these cases like mine where you both work full time and one opts out of future family life.

As he has a new baby on the way that affects the maintneance he pays for the first 4 children I think too. As his income is zero then I don't expect she will be getting much child maintenance from him.

I was very very keen to get a clean break. That means in the next 30 years whatever I earn he has no claim on it and that is a good feeling. Your sister might also want to be free of his maintenance claims on her too although the fact he's moved in with someone else may affect that anyway as his girl friend may have a job and income.

Judy1234 Thu 18-Jan-07 14:03:38

moz, yes for me the day to day stuff was worse than the financial although suddenly having a mortgage over £1m just so he got his 60 odd % felt very unfair as he could walk away under 50 with nearly £1m and never have to work again and in effect be a free single man (and I only divorced because of his conduct) so he hugely profited from his own wrong and that the law allows a man to walk away and never see their children again or ever help with them even if that father had previously been 50% parent or even 100% parent is very unfair. Of course you get used to it but it just goes on for years. Saturday it was me spending 5 hours getitng a child to and from a party. Sunday I drove one back to university. Today I've been helping one organise her graduation etc... all 100% down to me as he chooses not even to speak to most of them. And whereas if he wanted contact he could get a court order on it i can't get a court to order him to look after them. So we had just before a 43 week school holiday and he had the youngest for 2 days. I worked most of that time and paid for child care most of the holiday and he had 4 weeks off school not seeing the children.

So if your sister can cost in his stay at home father's services as it were in her negotiations that would help. If she's paying £30 k a year or more out of taxed income for services he used to provide and you look at what capital sum you would need to generate £30k a year...sadly I don't think it works like that. Instead you get half the assets unless that's not enough for her to house the children with a mortgage and given her earnings. And even going forward he might be wanting maintenance payments from her.

ProfessorGrammaticus Thu 18-Jan-07 14:11:07

Don't go in there with all guns blazing. Negotiate if possible. He won't ever disappear - the triplets are very young and your sister has to work alongside him for years. Press for an indication of the likely outcome from the solicitor, then use that in discussions with the husband if you can.

(I am divorce lawyer!)

mozhe Thu 18-Jan-07 14:19:48

She is also very keen to be rid of him.....i guess her ideal scenario is to give him the house in France, not pay him anything and not expect him to pay anything, but,( I think unrealistically ), wants this to change when he comes into his inheritance....so that their children benefit.
The girlfriend has no job, and as far as I can see no propect of ever getting one,( she's very young and hasn't even completed her education ! ).
I'm worried about the 10 year old....he may want to go to his dad..The babies I'm sure he won't want, they are too much hard work, especially the one with SN.
Their house in London doesn't have a mortgage, so they are worth a fair bit more but otherwise you were pretty spot on. Can she be forced to move somewhere smaller ? Theoretically you could live in a three/four bed terrace with 4 children...it is a lot bigger/in an expensive area...
Thank you v.much...I've got a lot of things to discuss with her when I come over at the w/e.
I know you are not a matrimonial lawyer but surely just being a lawyer helps ? I/m not a paedriatrician but when I had to deal with even the very specialized ones the fact that I'm a doctor did help...

mozhe Thu 18-Jan-07 14:28:36

Thanks, you lawyering types......bit depressing though,hmmm. Not feeling kindly disposed toward menfolk today,( though lots like my dh are apalled at his behaviour ), respect to you Xenia for coming through it.....if you have daughters then you are a real inspiration/model to them. This is probably the steepest bit for her right now,so I'm off to support her now...by booking flights back to UK on the ' lovely' ryanair !

Judy1234 Thu 18-Jan-07 14:41:28

I think they can work out a deal where she keeps the house, he gets the French house, the children stay with her, perhaps he has them half the school holidays in France or whatever is reasonable may be even with her nanny going over to help with the triplet with speical needs (which may help her) and a clean break. I got my ex husband to make a new will immediately after the divorce and I paid the costs., It says the children inherit from him. Of course he could change it tomorrow but it might be worth her asking him to do that or even suggest the French house go in trust for the children but I doubt he would want that and he'll have his new child/children anyway.

But yes in theory they would get 50% each of the capital and that might mean her remortgaging hugely like me or having to move to a smaller house. The "need" on divorce is to make sure children are houses and the courts would see that as a normal sort of standard property and if you live in a nice big house like mine that is beyond those basic needs. In cases where one person can't afford to buy the other out usually where mother doesn't work and only asset is 3 bed semi the father can't get his 50% and is more likely to get 40% - 35% and then only if she remarries or moves. until then he can't get his capital out as otyherwise the chidlren woudlnt' have a home.

Judy1234 Thu 18-Jan-07 14:42:32

I always think forcing the children on the new lover is a good way to cause trouble. I bet this young girl won't think he's so much fun when he has 4 children up at 6am in the house in France at half term and their sick to clear up when she was expecting to make passionate love to him all day or whatever... although if she's pregnant and he's a house husband he's probably used to all that anyway.

inanidealworld Thu 18-Jan-07 15:10:18

Good luck to your sister mozhe. I sympathise with her in that I am in a similar position with H being househusband and house all in my name. I started going all guns a blazing as well and now have this sad realisation that I'm pretty trapped (not enough capital to pay him off)and run a real risk of losing the children. I would die if that happened. We are stuck under the same roof.
Xenia -" he could walk away under 50 with nearly £1m and never have to work again and in effect be a free single man (and I only divorced because of his conduct) so he hugely profited from his own wrong " Although the sums involved are nowhere near as high this is how I feel and it seems so unfair!
Name changed as H found my other postings on here.

Judy1234 Thu 18-Jan-07 15:49:42

I saw my lawyer 6 month before I decided to divorce and I wouldn't have divorced if I would have lost the children. She siad as we had a full time nanny he couldn't use the parent with care argument which makes sense. Also as the older chilren would insist on being with me - age 13/15/17 the younger ones would not be split from them. The weekend FT article had women however who'd lost the children, the house and were paying maintenance which I think women should pause and consider and which makes me realise how terrible divorce is for very many men and awfully unfair for them because that's the situation they end up in. If we could just work to more 50/50 care arrangements it would benefit everyone and be fairer. I know men who stay in very unhappy marriages because they know if they divorce they lose daily contact with the children and live in a tiny flat whilst she gets the house.

jessica361 Mon 14-Dec-15 07:16:00

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