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Divorce settlement advice and suggestions please(10 Posts)
I've name changed for this as details could be outing. I'm posting here because I'm looking for advice from people who've come out the other side, and I think the divorce board is for people who are going through it now.
I am going to (hopefully) amicably divorce soon. This has been discussed a couple of years ago, but am abroad and Brexit has messed things up. It's back on the table again now.
Our (foreign) marriage contract is quite tightly worded in some areas, but loser in others, meaning that in the divorce settlement, there is some leeway to ask for things. I've spoken to a lawyer who has detailed this, so I'm looking for the 'if only I'd known in hindsight' type of advice. My mother did not take everything she was due from my father when they divorces, to be kind to him, and in the end got royally financially shafted by him. I don't want to make that sort of mistake (and will be takin what is mine - but don't want to ask unreasonable things either!).
The background is that directly due to STBX's work, my own work/career has massively suffered. At one point I could not work because I was not eligible for a work visa in one country we lived in - for his work. I'm retraining via degree with the OU, but am unable to do this full time due to childcare issues that relate to DH's job and him not wanting an au pair/more permanent help (his job sends him away randomly, meaning I have to be able to be very flexible). STBX recognises this is detrimental to my future (this is a long story, but that's a short version). This sounds contradictory, and is...like I said, we're going to divorce... STBX has a well-paid job.
So, in the divorce, I don't know what I should be asking for in terms of childcare division. He can't have the kids 50% because he randomly won't be here. Can I/WIBU to ask for extra financial provision for childcare some of the days I'd be having the children because he wouldn't be? For instance, if I take them 5 days per week, then 2 of those he pays for childcare after school? I know I'd be lucky to have more time with them, but I also need to get on with my degree etc.
Is it unreasonable to bring up that I need financial support until after I've graduated and finished the training scheme? As in try to get extra spousal support? I actively can't work here until I've graduated (need a local training after OU) and have uni fees to pay, so it's not a normal situation where I could get benefits or a job.
Is it ok to ask for funding to continue language learning so I can speak the language here well? Say to a particular level that is examined? (We only came to this country because of his work, and I am staying because he wouldn't get work in the UK and his work is permanently here now. This is not his home country either, but he is happy here). Would this be grabby? I need to speak the language very well for my future work.
And is there anything you wish you'd asked for that you didn't?
Any other advice or opinions on what I've written? I will discuss some of this with the lawyer, but we're going to go for a mediated agreement at first, because that would safe about 30k in legal fees (I've been advised). This means I don't have my own legal advice, but someone helping us work it out between us.
It doesn't matter if they're in the English or Scottish (or anywhere else) legal jurisdictions, it's to give me ideas and opinions. I have no idea where 'utterly ridiculous' is and where 'you should have been more assertive' is.
OP - for starters it’s hard to answer many of your questions without knowing local specifics as laws differ.
However - in more general terms - and based on my and my friend’s experiences:
- many people assume/hope/start with thinking they’ll reach agreement amicably. And mostly it fails. Men (as it tends to be them in position of higher earnings) - don’t like parting with money to pay their ex-spouses. So - it ends up as a fight, eventually.
Secondly - what worried me in your post is that you are on a shaky ground - foreign country, career break, dependency on H, etc. I am sure mediation is your H’s idea.
So is the not having your own lawyer - as he’ll have to pay for yours.
Given that you are the weaker party in the divorce - I’d not feel comfortable not having my own representation.
You are asking lots of questions here on MN - and really - you need a professional looking out for your best interests and advising you.
There is NO reason why you can’t do mediation AND have your own lawyer.
I am sure mediation is your H’s idea. Actually, it was mine. But this was better than his plan which was to return to his home country to get the divorce - as in travel back there for each meeting...
So is the not having your own lawyer - as he’ll have to pay for yours. It would come out of marital assets, so I'd be paying for it too.
There is NO reason why you can’t do mediation AND have your own lawyer.
I had wondered about this. Will look into it.
many people assume/hope/start with thinking they’ll reach agreement amicably. And mostly it fails. Men (as it tends to be them in position of higher earnings) - don’t like parting with money to pay their ex-spouses. So - it ends up as a fight, eventually.
This made me laugh. I have seen this over the years on MN. I had hope that it really could be amicable - truly amicable, not the lower earner getting shafted - sometimes. I want to start with mediation but am prepared for it to break down. He hasn't yet realised he has to pay me half of his pension accrual from the duration of our marriage...so I have this little MN red flag flapping about with the word 'naive' written on it!
Agree with not banking on it being amicable, men rarely like being parted from their money!
I would also have your own lawyer, actually I don’t think a lawyer is allowed to act for both parties do you will need your own.
Make sure you have a good handle on all the finances and be clear on what you want, go in higher so you have room to negotiate as you will be pushed downwards.
I was awarded spousal maintenance, much to my ex’s disgust, as I gave up my career to stay at home with the children. It’s not a lot compared to his earnings but it helps and gives me time to get back on my feet.
I regret not having a forensic accountant look into his finances as I know he had pensions and savings accounts that he lied about and said were defunct, I had copies of the paperwork but they weren’t admissible. Hopefully, your’s will be straightforward and you won’t need this.
His solicitor was much tougher than mine, I couldn’t take the stress anymore and agreed to things I shouldn’t have and basically got shafted.
Thing is about amicability - is I think people come at divorce from their own POV’s and what seems fair to you isn’t the same what he’ll consider fair.
That, and the money thing...
So - my ex, like yours used to say he recognised that I made career sacrifices to raise the kids. He also - at the start of the divorce said that he’ll ‘of course’ will pay for everything for the kids.
But when it came to negotiations - all of it didnt quite turn out this way.
According to him - I didn’t need retraining and should have been getting any job - at much lower salary than I used to be able to get. And ‘everything’ for the kids - meant they had to stop their activities/hobbies, and not have any holidays with me.
So - just another example for you.
Unlike you - I didn’t expect it to be amicable on spousal support. But I didn’t think he’ll try to save on his kids. My ex is a very high earner.
Anyway - given all I have seen from my and my friends divorces, I would get my own lawyer and try to negotiate out of court. But not through a mediator. Mediator just wants you to reach an agreement. Lawyer - fights for the best deal for you.
Mediator is great for someone who comes from a position of strength. Which isn’t where you are.
Also - OP - since your H knew for some time that divorce is probable - he most likely moved his money around, to optimise his position. And if he didn’t - I’d be very very surprised. In your place - I’d try to make sure I have a full picture of the financials for several years - predating to the divorce conversations.
And before you dismiss it by thinking ‘he isn’t like that’ - stop. I also thought mine wasn’t and that despite our broken relationship - he has integrity. Until I found a hidden trust set up.
If your H has money and assets to protect - he most likely did.
Don’t count on/expect the best outcome and fair fight. It will be what it will be.
And btw - he may or may not have to share his pension with you. Here in the UK, at least - it’s dependent on the total amount of assets shared and whether that amount covers your needs. So - pension doesn’t have to be shared.
I'm going through an "amicable" divorce at present, but it is still very very difficult to discuss finances.
You need to get proper legal advice for the country you are in. I have no idea what mediation means where you are. What level of training mediators need, their code of conduct etc.
"Mediator just wants you to reach an agreement. Lawyer - fights for the best deal for you.
Mediator is great for someone who comes from a position of strength. Which isn’t where you are."
Couldn't disagree more with this point! I had about as amicable divorce as could be, bearing in mind you're generally separating because you don't get on, so you'll disagree on many things!
We chose mediation because we saw our neighbours spend almost £250,000 in the most bitter of divorce battles. We'd agreed between us a lot of the stuff in principle, the Mediator was a Barrister at a Family Law Firm, i was by far the higher earner and was given a very hard, but not unreasonable, time in justifying how we'd come to our decisions, why i felt the financial agreement was fair, all bank account/statements for past 3 years etc were open to each of us and pensions were discussed etc. We both came out of the process feeling we'd got a reasonable outcome, therefore we remain amicable and life is easier going forward. Oh, and it cost us around £5000 in fees which i think isn't too bad
Definitely get your own lawyer.
One thing you haven’t mentioned (I think) is arrangements for foreign travel for your children. Will you both be in agreement for the other parent to take them abroad (will you bring them back to the UK to visit family etc?). Do the children have citizenship of the country you live in?
Thank you everybody.
The mediator would be a senior international divorce lawyer.
I can't tag easily but I'm taking on board Thor points. I'm recognising some patterns in my own situation related to what's being posted. And to whoever said that we're getting divorced because we don't agree on things, this is one of these blindingly obvious and useful points! We are! And one area is money!!
I've started looking into our finances now. I have copies of salary slips going back a while and will collect some other details I have access to from a few years ago which will help in a paper trail (and I hadn't thought about the usefulness of these at the time).
Thank you everybody and sorry to those who had a really crap time of it.
Never will I ever share a house or finances with anybody again!
I actually hope I'm single forever too!
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