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advice on divorce process please

(13 Posts)
oxcat1 Sun 15-May-16 21:11:26

I have written a couple of threads about how my husband of 9 years (partner since university) suddenly left me for my best friend (and our former housemate) last August. To cut a long story short, I am still devastated, still in love, and still desperately unhappy and confused about the whole thing.

ExH refuses to communicate with me in any way - he never has since the day he left - but he did text me a week ago to say that I have pushed him into telling me by text that I should expect a letter from his solicitor within the next few weeks, and if I feel there is anything that needs to be discussed, it can be discussed in mediation.

I know I need to speak to a lawyer and get proper advice, but please could you just give me a vague sense of things?

A) I do not want to consent to the divorce. I don't really want to contest it as I understand that that is rarely successful and just costs q vast amount. However, given I was - and still am - totally in love with my husband, I cannot put my name to the claim that I feel it is an 'irreversible breakdown'. I feel that we could have continued with our previously happy marriage had I not invited my best friend (who became the OW) to live with us once she left her husband. Because of the vows I made when I married him, I do not feel able to sign the divorce paperwork as I know that I have not tried to save our marriage; we have not tried. Until the day he left, I had no idea anything was wrong.

Rightly or wrongly, I feel strongly about this. Am I right in thinking that I can simply not sign the initial paperwork answering to the petition when it arrives? Eventually he will then get granted the divorce but I will not have participated in it? That is what I would like to do if so.

B) we have no children, ana he is self-employed whereas I am now existing purely on benefits (primarily disability benefits due to long-term sickness). Presumably there is no form of spousal maintenance due given there are no kids? I have 'worked' for him before, initially in q voluntary capacity by simply sharing the admin and doing lots of behind the scenes work, but then later for one year we were able to get this work paid for by his employer at the time. Since then I have done things like his tax return and financial records, and website maintenance etc, but I don't imagine u am owed and financial support, an I?

C) when he left, we had 2 credit cards both with joint debts but held in our respective names, £300 on his card and £6000 on mine (on 0% deal). We also had a single ISA representing our joint savings but in his name. Presumably these accounts, both credit and debt, should simply be divided in two equally? This will rely on his honesty as there is no independent record to state that they are all shared, but I do expect him to honour it.

D) I have all the possessions as initially he simply left our rented house to move into the OW's house. These should be split, presumably? Not that I imagine she'll want our stuff in her house.

E) her divorce has just gone through, enabling her to buy a £300k house rather than renting as she has been. Could this be why my ex is suddenly pushing the divorce having previously said there was no rush? If he goes into buying the house with her whilst still married to me, could she be worried about me getting access to his share when the divorce is processed should it not happen now?

Sorry to ask so many questions. I will get proper advice but I am just so delicate about it all. Thanks

TempusEedjit Sun 15-May-16 21:47:07

So sorry you are going through this Oxcat

Assuming you are in England/Wales? (divorce law is different in Scotland). I got divorced 4 years ago so things might have changed a little but as far as I know:

Regarding point A you can't just ignore the divorce petition otherwise a bailiff will be used to serve it to you for which you'll be liable for the costs. All your ex has to do is state the reasons why he wasn't happy in the marriage - he doesn't have to prove them (unless accusing you of adultery). I believe you can state that you disagree with the reasons but agree to the divorce.

B) spousal maintenance is rarely payable nowadays, and only then when the higher earning party earns a lot more. If he's self employed he could easily hide income so he wouldn't have to pay you.

C) It's usual for debts run up during the marriage to be taken into account when calculating assets but there are exceptions e.g. if one party ran up a gambling debt without the other's knowledge.

D) Anything under £500 (current value, not value to replace new) is not usually taken into account when declaring/dividing assets .

E) probably

In a childless marriage the starting point for division of assets is usually 50/50 - however if one of the parties has a greatly reduced earning capacity compared with the other e.g disability or much closer to retirement age then they might be awarded a greater share. Obviously you need proper legal advice, hopefully in the meantime someone more knowledgeable will be along soon.

dreamerlemur Sun 15-May-16 21:57:54

Sorry for this devestating blow to you particularly that you were helping your friend out who is now with your ex -husband.
Firstly, it is possible not to sign any paperwork. Your ex husband will then have to wait five years for a divorce.
B) Sorry I can't advise on this part.
C) I am so sorry to read this. Unfortunately you will now have to rely on good will to have these debts shared equally. The £6000 debt in your name, the financial companies will only be chasing you to clear this not your ex husband. These are very hard lessons for you .
D) in light of C you might want to consider your options here.
E) He may be chasing the divorce as perhaps either he or OW would like a clean break or get remarried? It is possible that yes, OW is worried about you claiming some of their new property.

I really hope you have some supportive friends around you as you are going through a great deal and am really not surprised you are feeling delicate. Betrayed by two of people closest to you sad

oxcat1 Tue 17-May-16 13:56:38

Thanks so much for both the replies.

Basically, I do not want to agree to the divorce. How do you get to the 'five years without consent' bit? I don't want to issue proceedings myself, and neither do I want to start something that is going to cost a huge amount of money for either of us. But at the same time, I do not want to divorce ny husband - I love him still and I do not feel I have given my marriage a full attempt to save it. This may not matter to him, but it does to my own sense of conviction. It isn't exactly a religious objection, but I do want to know that I tried...?

Of course, ideally I don't want the divorce to go ahead. However, I had thought that if I simply didn't sign the paperwork, then he would get his divorce but i would not have been party to it. Is that mistaken?

Ugh. It's all so horrible. Thanks for your support.

Stardust160 Tue 17-May-16 14:22:03

OP you can't force someone to be with you and work things out. The lack of contact demonstrates that he has no interest in trying to salvage the marriage. He's decision must be made if he is wishing to start divorce proceedings straight away. I do think Yabu to deny him that right. Hold your head high move on and you can have a shot at happiness with someone who truly wants to be with you. Your worried about him not honouring the debt you have in your name but if you deny a divorce and make things harder for him then he could deny any knowledge of the debt in your name. You don't have any DC so it would be a clean break for you . Be kind to yourself it will take time to heal but within holding divorcing him is wrong but for your well being as well. How will you be able to let it go and move on. You deserve someone who loves and cherishes you and a friend who wouldn't stab you in the back. I'm a firm believer in karma best thing is to sit back and let them get on with it.flowers

dreamerlemur Tue 17-May-16 16:33:18

www.gov.uk/divorce/overview

This provides a brief summary. Wishing you well OP.

MrsBertBibby Tue 17-May-16 16:58:48

OP, you can decline to agree to a 2 year separation petition, but if he petitions on the basis of your unreasonable behaviour then you don't have to agree.

You should return the acknowledgement of service to the court (this confirms you received it.) You can write on it that you don't accept that the marriage is over, but that will make no difference if he petitions for unreasonable behaviour. The only way you can counter that is by filing an answer, and TBH it is very hard to defeat a behaviour petition, as most judges believe that if people want a divorce they should have one.

There is no defence to a divorce petition based on 5 years separation ( other than denying that the separation is that long).

I'm orry, it is rubbish, but I don't think hanging on to this marriage will be helping you.

oxcat1 Tue 17-May-16 23:00:46

Thanks for your thoughts. I don't really expect him to come back, and I don't think I am hanging on for the sake of a reconciliation, but simply that I do not wish to put my signature to the assertion that I agree my marriage is irreversibly damaged. I truly, truly believe that had my H not fallen for my best friend, we would still be happily married. Now I know it can be argued that he would never have fallen for her had that been the case, but actually there is quite a complicated back story that makes this more 'forgivable', and in any case, I am thinking purely of myself here.

For those who say it is selfish to keep him in the marriage, devil's advocate would say that actually I am doing nothing - he is choosing to leave the marriage. That is what I would like the paperwork to record, and why i asked whether, having received the paperwork, I could simply not sign it? From what I have read, if it is not returned within ?21 days then the divorce is automatically granted. This would seem to give us both what we 'want' (although this could not be further from what I want, and there are no words to say how lonely and terrified I am now my husband and best friend who has been beside me for over half my life is suddenly totally and completely absent). I still cry every day for that man I loved so much.

HeddaGarbled Tue 17-May-16 23:19:59

He doesn't deserve your love. He has and is treating you cruelly and unkindly. Would you think about getting some counselling to help you deal with this awful betrayal?

housewifedesperate Wed 18-May-16 07:59:18

I'm so sorry to hear about your story but a couple of previous posters are right. As hard as it is, you need to accept that your marriage and relationship is over. It's heartbreaking and devastating (i know) but the only way for you to move on with your own life.
The reasons for the divorce won't matter in the long run and you're just going to be 'divorced' really. It's so incredibly sad when a relationship breaks down when one of the couple really doesn't want it, especially when such a betrayal is involved (again, I feel your pain) but I feel , as difficult as it's going to be, you need to let go of this man.
Put simply, he really doesn't deserve your love.

prh47bridge Wed 18-May-16 08:53:11

You don't need to consent to the divorce unless he is petitioning on the basis of 2 years separation. He is more likely to go for unreasonable behaviour which does not require your consent.

You will be required to sign an acknowledgement of service form. This will ask:

1. Have you received the divorce petition?
2. On which date and at which address did you receive it?
3. Are you the person named as the Respondent in the petition?
4. Do you agree with the ground for jurisdiction? (i.e. are you happy with the case being heard in the English courts)
5. Do you intend to defend the case?
6. Do you admit the (adultery, unreasonable behaviour etc)?
7. Even if you do not intend to defend the case do you object to paying the cost of the proceedings?
8. Have you received a copy of the Statement of Arrangements for the children? Do you agree with the proposals?

You are perfectly entitled to answer No to both questions 5 and 6, meaning that you don't admit the unreasonable behaviour (or whatever other grounds he has used) but you aren't going to defend the divorce. Note that none of these questions asks if you agree that the marriage has broken down irretrievably. Even admitting to the unreasonable behaviour (or whatever) does not mean you think the situation is irretrievable.

Your solicitor can sign the D10 on your behalf if you really don't want to sign it.

From what I have read, if it is not returned within ?21 days then the divorce is automatically granted

No, that isn't how it works in England. If you don't return the acknowledgement of service your ex will have to use either bailiffs or a process server to serve the papers. He may be able to claim the costs from you. If you still fail to respond he can ask the courts to proceed without your acknowledgement but he has to go through this step first.

I would strongly recommend that you sign the acknowledgement of service. You are not agreeing that your marriage is irreversibly damaged. You are simply agreeing that you have received the divorce papers and you do not intend to defend the divorce. Failing to sign them could result in you having to pay for the bailiffs or process server which is a cost you could do without.

On your other points...

B) There may be spousal maintenance depending on your relative earning capacities. In the situation you describe you may be entitled to maintenance although, as others have said, he may try to hide his income. You need to consult a solicitor.

C) The courts will want to see a fair division of assets. That does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. Given your long term sickness it may be that he has to pick up all the debt and you get more of the assets. Again, a solicitor in possession of all the facts will be able to advise properly.

D) His personal possessions (books, clothes, etc.) are his. Your personal possessions are yours. Anything else of value goes into the pot to be split between you. As per question C that doesn't necessarily mean a 50/50 split.

E) Can't comment on his motives. However, all his assets will go into the pot to be divided between you on divorce. He can't exclude part of his assets by using them to buy a house with the OW (or anyone else). It would be sensible of him to finalise the divorce and financial arrangements with you before buying a house with the OW.

oxcat1 Wed 18-May-16 23:15:46

Thank you, again, for your replies.

I went to the drop-in clinic at the solicitors recommended by CAB, but they refused to see me as apparently he has already sought advice there so it would be conflict of interest? It looks like I may not need a solicitor anyway as there is so very little to sort out.

The truth is, I don't know how to move on. You have to remember that I still loved that man and believed that he loved me until the day he left (and long after that, in honesty). He was still doing things like replacing some broken plates for the dinner service we got as a wedding present, only the week before he left, and the day before we lay in the sun and had a picnic together, and he held my arm as we walked.

I have just started counselling, having struggled for a year to get any, but u don't know how to move on. My entire adult life he has been beside me; everything I have enjoyed has been done with him, and for so long, he has been my world, and my access to the world, as my long hospitalisations made ny social circle smaller and smaller.

I don't know how to go on? I don't know how to move on? I am so afraid and so alone. I miss him and love him. How do you turn that off?

HeddaGarbled Wed 18-May-16 23:45:47

Ah love, I am so sorry flowers The counselling will help. Hang on in there.

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