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Cant work out what is fair or unfair re: separation and divorce

(18 Posts)
darkcorridors Sun 24-Apr-16 09:01:43

NC-ed for this. H and I separated a year ago after his emotional affair and having kissed the OW (not sure if it went further, but he has admitted to the kiss) and I'm currently completely confused as to who IBU re: various detail regarding the separation, 3 DC and money and was hoping you lovely mumsnetters could help set me straight.

I moved out, since H bought it when we first got together, it is the house he grew up in and his parents live next door. The house is an old farmhouse and needs a LOT of work and to be honest, I grew to hate the place since exH was not very motivated to make improvements and

darkcorridors Sun 24-Apr-16 09:44:11

Hit send too soon!! Argh!

...exH didn't do much (any) of the cleaning and the effort of keeping an almost dilapidated house clean and tidy ground me down, so I am glad to be currently renting a nice house about 5 miles away. We tried to split time with the DC as near to 50:50, but it works out that I have them slightly more, with them staying with me Mon - Thurs afternoon, & Saturday night. I pick them up early Monday morning and drop the two eldest to school, look after the almost 2 yr old during the day until Thursday, where I collect DC 1&2 from bus, take them to exH house until he gets home from work. They stay overnight and I collect them for school the following morning since exH leaves for work slightly before they need to leave. I work PT fri-sun, so I drop the youngest at childcare (used to be cared for by ex's parents until recently, but now he goes to childcare from 11 and kids stay for afterschool club and exH collects them all at 40.30 ish. I collect them after work on Saturday around 5.30, and we go to visit my parents. The DC more often than not stay overnight at my parents, and my parents take them out on Sunday while I work, drop them back to exH late Sunday PM and they stay the night there, and so the cicely continues. We follow the same pattern during school holidays. And breathe!

So here's the issue o can't get straight in my head. H won't pay any sort of maintenance. He says the cost of keeping our 4 cats (my rental agreement doesn't allow pets) offsets against the cost of having the baby in the day during the week, and he is paying some joint debts (in his name) from when we were together (circa 5k). ExH didn't contribute to my ML with eldest kids, but paid mortgage and most bills, and I took care of food, clothing and stuff for the DC, some bills etc. ExH decided to pay of large chunks of his CC, and when I pointed out that I found this unfair since I'd had to drop my payments to the minimum for months in order to survive, he did eventually after to combine my CC debt (about 2k) with his, and took out a loan in his name. When I left, I left with nothing at all apart from my clothing and some of the DC clothing and toys, and my banger of a car. ExH kept the 7seater newish family car and everything else.

I'm currently definitely struggling financially. I work about 21 hrs part time, receive some HB, child benefit and have applied now for working tax credits. H feels this is unfair and seems to think I'm rolling in it, despite the fact I tell him otherwise. He is now asking for half the money for the youngest DC childcare fees and half the afterschool fees.

I'm not sure if this is reasonable. Sometimes I think it is not, but after speaking to him I come away from the conversation totally confused as to what is right or wrong. I don't know in the divorce if I should be claiming anything, or whether it's fair to do so (have not sought legal advice yet as I can't afford to!!). Put simply, at the moment I just can't afford to! I'm on the bare bones of my ass, struggling to feed us all even (although I'm hoping that tax credits will help) and in all sorts of arrears. The petrol costs with all the running around doing school pickups and drop offs even on 'his' days are killing me, but I can't work more since it will mean more childcare fees for the DC.

What do you make of the situation? I feel as though it's waited unfairly, but I honestly don't know because he did take my debt on. Please help me see what's the fairest way forward!

Thanks for ploughing through this!'

darkcorridors Sun 24-Apr-16 09:47:19

To clarify, the 5k debt is 2k mine, the rest his from student days.

darkcorridors Sun 24-Apr-16 10:15:25

Apologies for spelling and grammar errors and multiple posts! Posting from my phone.

Wanted to add that exH also bought a mobile phone for my birthday when we were together and promised to pay the contract bills. He is currently still paying this (is not happy about it!) at around £30 a month, but this is due to come to an end fairly soon.

He also has a fairly well paid steady job. I facilitated this when we were together by giving up my own job when the eldest DCs were young by becoming a SAHM. I did try to go back to work on several occasions just doing low paid jobs (waitressing etc). He was supportive, but when they clashed with his work commitments I ended up having to finish since it didn't make sense to jeopardise his progression in his well paid position for my NMW jobs. I also did a PT degree in this time. Am just trying to illustrate that I haven't been idle, but my career prospects have taken huge hits since becoming a parent whereas he has continued to progress in his career. He currently has a very reasonable amount judging on his current lifestyle.

PhoenixReisling Sun 24-Apr-16 10:26:51

No knowledge of this, however I would personally go and see a solicter and see what they say (maybe get the ball rolling re:divorce).

lousylear Sun 24-Apr-16 10:38:25

1. You can have half hour free chat with solicitor.
2. You shouldn't have to pick kids up from school on his days. That's up to him to sort out childcare.
3. You may have to take half the debt as well as half any equity in house.
4. You should still get CM from him for the kids.
5. You're in similar position to me. Our house still needs renovating. He does bits but not done anything for ages. Eg: put kitchen in 13 yrs ago - still needs tiling and kick boards round bottom of cupboards. Bathroom in 9 yrs ago - still needs side panel on bath and tiling. I could go on. After 14 yrs I have had enough. I am moving into rental a week on Tuesday.

MumsKnitter Sun 24-Apr-16 11:46:32

I think, unless things have recently changed, that you are due child maintenance if you have the children 4 or more nights a week on average over the year. When I got it, it was 15% of his net income for one child, 20% for 2 children, and 25% for 3 or more children. He would be due a reduction if he has other children in his house he is responsible for, and would get a reduction for each night that they stay with him. So if you have 3 kids, that stay with him 3 nights a week, then he would pay 4/7 of 25% of his net income. That would perk your finances right up! And child maintenance is disregarded, and therefore doesn't affect your entitlement to benefits including tax credits.

You should definitely go for a free half hour consultation with a lawyer. Debts in his name are entirely his problem in the short term, but will rightly be taken into into consideration when dividing up any marital assets such as the house and your pensions. You shouldn't pay anything upfront of a financial settlement in my view. It should just come off your share of assets. Childcare is his issue on his days, and yours on your days. The kids staying at your parents counts as a night with you.

I hope my advice isn't out of date! CAB would also help you talk it through and check your entitlements. Good luck with your new happier life!

BitterAndOnlySlightlyTwisted Sun 24-Apr-16 11:56:36

All of this loans/childcare-costs/cat food business pales into comparison when you focus on the cost of housing the children.

Both of you are equally responsible for ensuring the children are adequately housed. You pay rent, he lives in the jointly-owned family home. That house is half yours.

As part of the divorce you could be awarded more than 50% of its value because you sacrificed your earning potential to look after your children in favour of his long-term career prospects. Plus a share of his pension and any other assets.

This is why you need someone experienced to fight your corner for you. If you cannot afford any legal advice (and I'd go into debt rather than not have it) DO NO agree to anything relating to the financials. You need to agree the financial settlement as part of your divorce.

Many, many solicitors will agree to defer their fees until your share of the assets have been realised. This could mean forcing a sale of the family home, or your ex-husband remortaging in order to release the funds due to you.

lousylear Sun 24-Apr-16 12:22:11

In terms of fees my solicitor wants £550 court costs plus £250 deposit towards her fees. Rest payable once settled. Could you get a 0% CC to tide you over? My solicitor said some people borrow from friends or family or pay so much a wk to solicitor until enough to start proceedings.

darkcorridors Sun 24-Apr-16 12:55:47

Thanks for your helpful replies. I've been considering the solicitor route, and your responses have confirmed that I think this is what I need to do. In the interest of an easy life, I think I've been rolling over and being a little too accommodating.

I took my wedding and engagement ring with me (had to sell, basically to pay bills) and he's recently discovered this and hit the roof because I didn't tell him. I don't want to force a sale on the house since I don't want to take that stability from the kids, and to be honest, he bought it from his parents at bottom of market value and needs so much doing to it I think I'm not even sure it's saleable, although my dad did a LOT of work on it (he's a builder).

So going forward, put my foot down on the childcare aspect, and stop picking up the slack on 'his' days. I think I might look for work on the days that he technically should have the children. I need/want to do this, and I think it will make things a little more clear cut because currently his argument is that in looking after the baby in the day on 'his' day, so I have no argument as to why I can't do the school run on that day since I'm picking DC3 up anyway. It will mean that that argument is negated.

I will also see what I can do in terms of finances re: getting a solicitor, but I don't see how I can do it. I can't get a credit card (did apply, but low income coupled with the patchiness of my credit history since the split because I have had to make a couple of payment plans through not being able to afford bills) means I doubt if be accepted.

So you definitely think I'm not being unfair with regards to refusing to go halves on that Friday childcare so I can work (it's his day)?

MumsKnitter Sun 24-Apr-16 13:14:47

Not at all!

RandomMess Sun 24-Apr-16 13:30:13

In simple terms what is fair:

Each of you get 50% of the assets & 50% of the debts (including equity in house and car)

Each of you pay for your childcare when the DC in your care.

He pays some maintenance as per the CMS calculation as you have the DC more than 50% of the nights.

He both pay 50% of the cost of the cats as they were pets of the marriage!

QuiteLikely5 Sun 24-Apr-16 14:29:57

This is what courts are for - when you have abusive greedy men who won't fulfil their legal obligations!

He is still trying to control and bully you when in reality he has got no rights or say whatsoever

You certainly would be given a share of that property and if he didn't want to give you your share he would need to buy you out! Imagine how nice that would be.........

darkcorridors Sun 24-Apr-16 15:22:29

When we split we both agreed that it would be as amicable as humanly possible, but I feel somewhere along the lines of trying to be reasonable I've been a bit of a mug. He seems to be upping the financial demands for various things. I've been taking antidepressants and really trying to get my life on some sort of track, and it's really only now I'm realising how much I seem to be doing the giving and bending, and it's becoming detrimental, for example with the extra childcare costs when he is spending a small fortune (and quite annoyingly on replacing and fixing things on the house that I've lived with miserably for years).

lous apologies for not acknowledging your post - I'm sorry things haven't worked out for you in your marriage, but hope you will be happier in your own new space - I certainly am. It's brilliant!!

Hillfarmer Sun 24-Apr-16 15:38:03

Please please see a solicitor. I think he is running rings around you and you are poor whilst he is sitting in a house, half of which is yours. See a solicitor and pay them when he has bought you out of the house. Don't be sentimental about the house you have had to move out is a joint marital asset and you need the money!

Outrageous that he is angry you have had to sell your rings to pay the bills...he has his priorities all wrong.

Hillfarmer Sun 24-Apr-16 15:50:01

I have a feeling that he will remain amicable as long as you are happy being done up like a kipper.

He is not being reasonable. You need a solicitor to give you a clear guide of fairness because yours has been eroded and you don't know what is fair any more. Any family court judge would give you a big slice of the marital pie; all this casual 'amicableness' does you no favours whatsoever.

Don't expect him to appreciate you taking legal advice. I expect his pretence at reasonableness (see how he reacted abou the rings as an example of how he expects you to be 'reasonable') to crumble and he will get nasty. He is being nasty now, letting you and children slide into poverty whilst sitting in the property, spending family money on what he fancies and failing to give you all proper financial support.

He will see you going to a solicitor as 'unfair' on him. Don't listen to that. You are seeking legal advice as to what is a fair outcome for you and the children. Hold onto that and don't let him make you feel as if you are the baddie. The situation as it stands is unfair on you. Don't accept it. Don't feel bad that you've been talked into colluding in this situation thus far, just draw a line now and say to yourself 'From now on I am going to get a fair solution'.

So far you have done all this without any kind of professional advice. Not good! You deserve a much better solution - it would also sort out 'what's fair' in terms of childcare and his stupid demands in that area. Good luck!

tomatoplantproject Sun 24-Apr-16 16:02:27

You really need to see a solicitor and get your fair share of what you have. You need to make sure you have stability and aren't completely stranded.

Words like Reasonable, Flexible, Fair, Compromise won't be helping. In my opinion they are far too liberally banded around by uncompromising men because they tap into values that we've been taught from a young age, and that to be "unreasonable" or "inflexible" goes completely against the grain. But they are being used to manipulate you to do something which isn't in your favour.

What I'm saying is don't be nervous about putting your foot down to get what you are entitled to and need (be that money, time off from childcare to work, etc). He's doing very nicely right now and you seem scared to rock the boat. Sod being the nice one if that means you can't keep a roof over your head or food on the table.

darkcorridors Sun 24-Apr-16 19:14:21

Yes, I think you're bang on the money (pardon the pun) there hill. I seem to enter into a conversation with him knowing full well what I want to get across and with an idea of what is fair (and really, I have no desire to screw him over or anything) but he seems to twist my words and I end up coming away feeling utterly confused and not knowing up from down.

More texts this afternoon pushing for payment for the Friday childcare, but I've held firm and said I won't pay as I've no need to. He is now back-pedalling and using his favoured phrases of what is best for the kids using the guise of reasonableness, but I feel the scales have fallen from my eyes slowly but surely, and I can see that it is really manipulation dressed up as 'being amicable'. The second I push back I've really noticed that a totally different side comes out in him. I can see this has always been the trend in the marriage, I think I've always taken a back seat to everything really, even though I'm actually quite a strong person:

Thanks for taking the time to advise though, it is much appreciated. Getting your perspectives has really bolstered me to go forward in being much more of an advocate for myself.

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