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Thoughts please - remaining in family home or clean break?

(19 Posts)
sus14 Fri 21-Mar-14 13:13:26

So it emerged yesterday that I may have a choice to remain in the family home with my dd (5). This has been one of the biggest concerns for me as I move towards mediation and divorce. It would involve me giving my stexh almost 25% of the equity now, and the other 25% or 15% (what we negotiate in mediation which we'll start soon) in 6 years or later. My DF would finance most of this through releasing equity and I would get a mortgage for the rest. This was stbexh's idea, as he is concerned that dd would hate to move.

Mulling this over as to whether a good or bad thing:

In favour:
1) Obviously, stability for dd, who is remarkably attached to this house, her school is just behind us, she has friends down the street, love love loves her bedroom. Would mean not having to face parents splitting and new home all at once (she isn't aware we have split as we are still living together.
2) we remain in catchment area for secondary school where her friends will go - i know kids can make new friends but i went to a different secondary school to my friends and i had no new friends then until i left am went to 6th form college.
3) nicer, bigger house than we can afford otherwise. We may not even be able to afford a house if we move, the market seems to have gone a bit crazy again.
4) less change and disruption for me at such an incredibly hard time.
5) Would leave me option to change my mind if it didn't feel right decision - so could decide to sell up earlier ? But would give dd time to adjust, and for things to settle down a bit and give me time to look around rather than in a mad panic and time to find the right house.

1) no clean break esp as i am leaving an EA (and formerly PA) relationship and i would be dumbstruck if stexh didn't later use this against me ie he is living in tiny 1 bed flat and i am in big house (that he considers he bought although i paid for renovations and my name is on deeds.
2) effect on dd of above - her parents not being amicable
3) no clean break for me emotionally, can i really make this feel like MY house
4) dd's father living in tiny flat and her seeing that.
5) possibly i would give up my chance of getting 60% of proceeds and end up with 50% , depends on how mediation goes i expect., but hard to argue for bigger % i think.
6) Having to have his stuff around still as he has tons of it and it won't all fit in a one bedrom flat

As I see it overall staying here is better for dd and leaving is better for me, and obviously her needs outweigh mine massively, but then i would need to be happy in order to make her happy - could i make this place feel like mine? And I am tempted by taking the time and possibly moving anyway in a few years if the right house comes up, i can just see myself jumping in a mad panic as i hate living together still.

What have others done, and how have you found it?

CogitoErgoSometimes Fri 21-Mar-14 13:30:44

I think, given the EA and PA element, that you cannot afford to have him have any remaining control of your life whatsoever. Go for a fair settlement best you can but your goal should be full independence. Any contribution from him in the form of maintenance should be a bonus rather than something you ever rely upon. You'll be far better off in the long-run with a clean break and DD will just have to adapt.

tribpot Fri 21-Mar-14 13:52:43

I wouldn't consider a move that might involve a change of school. That would be a deal breaker for me. If you did move, is there nowhere you could buy that would keep you in the catchment area? Needn't be a house. You seem to be convinced your dd would be emotionally scarred by so much as seeing a parent living in a flat, let alone living in one herself smile I can assure you, she won't give a monkey's.

The other thing that would be a deal breaker, however, would be having your ex-H's stuff still in the house. That is a definite no-no. There has to be a clean split of living arrangements, even if the financials are a bit messy.

What if your ex stayed in the house? If you could find somewhere near enough by to avoid moving schools.

sus14 Fri 21-Mar-14 15:20:46

She wouldn't need to move school, I can be near enough, i am thinking about secondary school which sounds mad as it is 6 years away, but it's next door to the primary so most children go there. We wouldn't remain in catchment area for it.
He couldn't buy me out enough and I would be looking for a bit more than 50% given that I have dd.

Yes his stuff is really annoying and I am sure he would say i was being unreasonable if i asked him to move everything when he still owned more than 1/4 of the house.

not sure whether to take both options to mediation and see where we go. on the plus side most of the furniture comes from his old flat so i guess if he took most of that then it would start to feel like my house even if we had dirt cheap or freecycle replacements.

my head is saying clean break but my heart saying stay here just to give dd time to adjust. It's even the walk home - we walk home with her little classmates who live down our road and i would change that to having to drive, not really a big deal, but it's a load of those little things.

sus14 Fri 21-Mar-14 15:22:49

What does worry me a little is that she worries about him being sad (as he constantly tells her he is sad !) and if he is in a v small place and resentful of me in this house then that worry of hers will continue, whereas if we are in roughly equal places even if ours is a house and his is a flat then she might not feel that. Although he would keep it like a pigsty, but she already sees that with him in the spare room which i refuse to touch.

itwillgetbettersoon Fri 21-Mar-14 15:59:24

If you tried to get 80% equity for a clean break and lower mtnce payments would that enable you to buy ex out immediately?

tribpot Fri 21-Mar-14 16:00:24

I am sure he would say i was being unreasonable if i asked him to move everything when he still owned more than 1/4 of the house.

He can say what he likes. I own a flat which is rented out to tenants. I don't get to keep any of my crap in it. It has to be your home, that's non-negotiable.

if he is in a v small place and resentful of me in this house then that worry of hers will continue

She will feel that if he chooses to make her feel that. Which, given his past history of emotional manipulation, sounds likely. It doesn't matter what you do or say. If he's determined to play the 'mummy made me leave and now I'm all alone' card, he'll do it. You're not with him any more, you don't have to play the game of mitigating his crap.

A lot of this seems to be about trying to anticipate his next 'attack'. And FWIW, I do think secondary school is an important consideration. You need some legal advice, really, about how to enforce a split as completely as possible.

Cabrinha Fri 21-Mar-14 16:25:30

First off, the man sounds like an arsehole. Be clear on this: matter how reasonable and amicable you are, and what you give up to try to create a good relationship, he will still be arsehole. If he's the type to make digs about a 1 bed flat, he'll have something arseholian to say about a 2 bed, or the same size is worse location, or a palace that outshines yours, but he had to move. Accept he'll twist it and resolve to IGNORE.
So - just drop that from your decision.

Next - it will be your HOME. Not his storage unit.
I let my ex stay in our house for a bunch of reasons. He owes me half the equity. Nothing to do with being married - I put in half deposit, half mortgage, half bills. It's legally protected but I'm waiting 8 years. I have NO right to treat it as mine in any way. Get it clearly written in mediation - no storing stuff. That he hasn't the space is not your problem. He can turn to friends, family, storage unit.

Do NOT go in for less value in mediation feeling guilty your house is bigger. It's your daughter's home, it has to be. And you could move somewhere cheaper, but you'll have a bigger mortgage because you're choosing this for HER.

Base what you request in mediation on what you need, and what she needs. And fuck him - he's abusive, feel yourself on the moral high ground when you go for 60 or 70%. I don't know what's realistic... But do NOT lower your sights because he is in a smaller place.

Tbh, I think it sounds better to stay put. But you have to resolve to be strong enough to feel it's your home, and he has no rights over it. Seriously - I've £100K tied up for 8 years, but I can see - it is not my home. Only YOU can make yourself feel he has any entitlement, not him. It's a practical solution for your daughter, end of.

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 21-Mar-14 16:34:34

I would seek legal advice on what he has proposed.

I would consider carefully whether mediation is actually a good idea at all. Mediation is never a good idea to undertake when there has been abuse of any type within the relationship.

You do realise of course that he has been and will remain difficult throughout. This is about power and control to him; he still wants absolute. I would only engage with this man through solicitors and not mediation.

To use mediation is to subscribe to the mistaken idea that abuse is related to "misunderstandings" or lack of communication. If discussion and compromise, the mainstay of mediation, could help in any way most domestic violence situations would be long ago resolved because victims of abuse "discuss and compromise" constantly. Mediation assumes both parties will cooperate to make agreements work; the victim has always 'cooperated' with the abuser; the abuser never cooperates.

Mediation can be and is ordered by judges/courts, as can counselling and mental health evaluations. They are tools in the abuser's arsenal to be used against the victim as often as he chooses. In order for mediation to work and to not make situations worse the parties involved must have equal power and must share some common vision of resolution. This is clearly not present when domestic violence has taken place in a relationship.

Mediation practitioners must be alert to the need to interview partners separately with specially designed questions in order to determine if abuse is or has been present. Many domestic violence professionals can train others to screen safely for domestic violence. To not do so risks unsuccessful mediations, at best, and increasing the victim's danger by colluding with the abuser, at worst.

A person who has been terrorized by an abuser is not free to participate in a mediation process with him, even if the mediator(s) assume or believe that they "understand". Being truthful about any of her needs or experiences in the abuser's presence or proximity practically ensures that she is in more danger later.

The mediator is left with a no win: either the victim's danger is increased, or she is not fully or truthfully participating, or both. The well meaning mediator may actually encourage the victim to feel safe enough to share information that could seriously compromise her safety. In any case the whole intent of mediation is lost.

To engage an abuser and a victim in a process that implies equal responsibility is damaging to both. The victim is once again made to feel responsible for the abuser's behaviour, and the abuser is allowed to continue to not accept full responsibility for his behaviour choices

sus14 Fri 21-Mar-14 17:05:08

Wow, this is all so useful, thank you, i can't tell you how helpful all these replies are in helping me sort through my muddled thinking.

Firstly, thank you attila yes I am cautious about mediation and I totally and utterly get what you are saying. My reasons for considering it are in many ways selfish - firstly, it will get the process moving as stexh has agreed to take part (whether he will when he sees that the appointments are working hours and cost a ton i don't know) and also my df is very keen on this and I would rather a mediator tell me that it is not appropriate or for stbexh to not agree than me seem the obstinate one (lots of back history with df) . I haven't yet had my initial assessment so i will be absolutely honest including about the past physical abuse and see what they say. Also, if i feel manipulated or stressed by it i will step outside the process. My mental health is rather fragile.

And also just to say I am happy to live in a flat my only concerns for it are how difficult it would be to get a private garden as we have a cat (who believe me has been through everything with me - predates stbexh too) and also as i feel so mentally fragile i just can't cope with people, i really need my own space and no negotiating with freeholders over problems, all that. In the future no doubt i will move to a flat by the sea and be very happy! But I would rather live in a flat in the right area for her school than further away - there are some nearby that could work but they come up very rarely - so this adds to my idea of waiting to sell rahter than jumping to sell v quickly just to stop living with him.

useful thoughts about the storage, yes i will definitely make that and the whole issue about it being MY house part of the negotiation and see where we get to. I don't actually think he can afford anything more than a studio on what he woudl get and it's possibly all pie in the sky but until we start mediation (or solicitors letters!), he won't really look properly so i won't know.

definitely a negative is that he may just hang on saying he can't find anywhere so i suppose a deadline needs to be imposed. I desperately do not want to spend another christmas living with this man, even if he has to be there for dd during the day.

taratamara Fri 21-Mar-14 17:12:22

Obviously you've got to do what feels right for you but if it were me I'd stay put, for the sake of stability for dd given friends/school etc nearby and to save yourself the stress of moving just now. You can always move later on when things are all settled, if you decide to then. You can redecorate your house and make it your own (eg not sure if you have a spare bedroom but if so can you make that your bedroom for example, or just change around furniture etc and have a big clear out/reorganisation.)

I agree with poster above who said your ex will be awkward irrespective of how reasonable you are, so that shouldn't be a factor in your decision.

sus14 Fri 21-Mar-14 18:25:53

yes he will be awkward regardless, as obviously the big thing for him is not living with dd, so nothing will make up for that.

we have been in separate bedrooms for over a year now so my room is my room, when he did go for a bit earlier this year i did feel like this was my house, so i suppose with a legal bit of paper guaranteeing it is mine for 6 years til dd starts secondary school (does that actually work - what's to stop him moving back?!) ,and none of his stuff here, it might feel like mine, it would just be his investment in dd.

lots to think about here , thank you

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 21-Mar-14 18:52:24


re your comment:-
"My reasons for considering it are in many ways selfish - firstly, it will get the process moving as stexh has agreed to take part (whether he will when he sees that the appointments are working hours and cost a ton i don't know) and also my df is very keen on this and I would rather a mediator tell me that it is not appropriate or for stbexh to not agree than me seem the obstinate one (lots of back history with df)"

Neither are good enough reasons to do mediation at all; it could well backfire on you and make you feel 1000 times worse than you already are. I can see why soon to be ex H wants to do it currently; he knows that he can use it as a way to further get back at you as "punishment" for leaving him. He will drag all this legal process out not just at cost to you financially but emotionally as well.

Re this too:-
"I haven't yet had my initial assessment so i will be absolutely honest including about the past physical abuse and see what they say. Also, if i feel manipulated or stressed by it i will step outside the process. My mental health is rather fragile"

The above is also more than enough reason not to enter into mediation with your soon to be ex H. Even one session will be enough to put your own recovery from him back even further and such men can and do take years anyway (yes, years) to recover from.

I would suggest you look at Womens Aid Freedom Programme and enrol yourself on that when you can do so. It could well help you.

Abuse is not about misunderstandings or lack of communication. I will bet you a crisp £5 note that he will actively refuse to co-operate at all.

How is this person ever going to be reasonable, he has not been so to date and mediation will not change his overall abusive attitude. Your Dad needs to realise that as well; mediation does not work with abusive men. Also such men can and do manipulate mediators. I would tell your Dad actually to back off and state that mediation is not appropriate in your circumstances.

paxtecum Fri 21-Mar-14 19:02:03

Sus: My friend split with her DH recently.
All the family were all so worried about the DCs reaction - they are 9 & 7.
They were told the news in a matter of fact way that they would be living with Mum in the week in a different house and Dad at the weekends and they were not phased at all and they love their new bedroom!

But they are still at the same school.

The atmosphere will be so much better without your STBXH in the house.
Maybe think about moving in a while, but not immediately.

I wish you well.

sus14 Thu 27-Mar-14 19:54:07

sorry, resurrecting as still a bit stuck on this one

FW has told me he won't do mediation which is fine by me although i am worried about costs. So do I now file for divorce or do i get the solicitor to write to him about financial arrangements - i have two proposals for him - one i stay in family home and give him 25% now and 25% in 12 years when dd is 18, or two we sell up now and I get 60% so i can afford a home for me and dd. This week he's being ranting on and on saying he wants to sell up and get out which is also fine now, anything just to end this relationship. I'm not going to go for pensions as to be honest his was built up before he met me - he's not paid anything into one during our marriage.

also if he picks the first option, is there some kind of time limit as he is still iving here and i can imagine him taking years to find somewhere. could only really go for the first one if the court gives him 6 months or something to get out (which is utterly depressing if it's going to take a year to get to end of financial arrangements bit - 18 months living together ?????? although i suppose not that much worse than another YEAR of this - really? )

it's my birthday tomorrow and me and dd are going on holiday for 2 weeks. hurrah! 2 weeks of peace. i shall not be taking my phone out and about - will just turn it on for her to speak to him in the evenings - imagine - entire days without ranty texts. yesterday i had an entire day of constant texts i was utterly and completley exhausted.

the good thing, i am so ok with separating now - and it's taken me 5 years to get to this point. so another year i guess is ok - it is such a relief being separated as actually there is far less shouting and ranting at me, i'm finding it much easier to live. just find him and his stuff still being around rather irritating.

BeforeAndAfter Thu 27-Mar-14 20:10:03

I'd go for the sell up and 60% now option if I were you. Imagine if he suddenly wants some of his remaining 25% in the next few years due to a change of circumstance.

A clean break is just that - you never have that nagging worry in the back of your mind that he might pop up and ask for what is "rightfully his" but a bit early. Honestly, just because he agrees to give you 12 years today (until DD is 18) you know, as well as I do, that he could change his mind and then start dropping subtle hints, then less subtle hints, then just being downright unpleasant. DD will get over any upheaval surprisingly quickly. Children really do adjust.

sus14 Thu 27-Mar-14 20:23:53

I m thinking that gives me more control. The court would order a house sale, in this climate it would sell in a week, and i d probably only put it on once i s found somewhere. Also looked into my dads equity release plan and it fills me with guilt as interest rate so high. If we sell up I can get a mortgage and borrow a very small amount, and just ask him to be on hand to help out with emergencies as I won't be able to save.

I think if I plan it all and present it to dd when I have found somewhere suitable she will be upset but se will come around. Children are surprising aren't they. She's totally ok with holiday just with me even though she knows he is very upset about it. And I am seeing a counsellor which will help me process all this.

sus14 Thu 27-Mar-14 20:30:43

Or it's legally written that if he requests
Money back before 12 years my share reverts to 60 percent? I don't mind selling up but would rather give it a couple of years while dd and I sort ourselves out.
Arg, hard this divorce stuff isn't it!

BeforeAndAfter Thu 27-Mar-14 20:42:19

In my experience it takes about a year plus to settle after an upheaval like this. So STBXH moves out. DD settles. STBXH pitches up with a woman and says he wants to settle down with her and 'give a proper home' to DD when she's with them. He hassles you to sell up, despite what's legally written - after all he didn't have a crystal ball when he agreed it. You then sell up and start the resettlement process all over again, only this time you have peace of mind. Honestly - bite the bullet now and start your new life and DD's new life as you mean to go on - with as little contact as you need for DD's sake. Don't let him have ANY hold on you - that's the best outcome for your daughter.

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