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SAHM divorcing high earner. Can anyone give me a quick general idea of my entitlement?

(32 Posts)
tiredoftherain Sat 03-Oct-09 12:52:05

The whole sorry saga is under another thread, but basically H wants a divorce and we're hoping to go through the collaborative law system. He is a high earner and I've been a SAHM since having the dc's.

He's told me that I'm not necessarily entitled to spousal support and that he may only need to split our assets and give me 20% net salary in child support but there is little equity in our home, as it's all been reinvested into the business we own. 20% of even his good salary will go nowhere if I have to relocate, retrain and fund childcare.

What I need to know is what is reasonable to expect in terms of spousal support, given that he will only have the children for 4 days a month. Should he support me for a number of years, until they leave home, or even at all? The eldest has mild SN, and the youngest is barely 2, so I'm going to have a lot of years looking after them and it isn't easy. I can't return to my former well paid job, and will need to retrain before I can start bringing in money. Any help or general advice on what is reasonable would be greatly appreciated so I can be prepared for my next solicitor's appointment.

Maggie34Behave Sat 03-Oct-09 12:54:31

No advice for you but I am glad to hear you're divorcing him. Even with a poor settlement life can only get easier.

Don't discuss with him what you're entitled to. He's obviously trying to lower your expectations. Only discuss it with solicitors now.

Owls Sat 03-Oct-09 12:57:08

Ooh hope you've got a good lawyer sorted sounds like you're going to need it the way H is behaving already.

I think you will be entitled to a house and maintenence for yourself and the children until the youngest reaches 17. There are some family lawyers on here so hopefully one will be along. If not, I would repost in 'Legal'.

Sorry to hear it's come to this btw. sad

LIZS Sat 03-Oct-09 12:57:51

Agree you should n't take his word for it , wait for the solicitor to advise you. You should make sure you can access a share of his pension too.

TeamEdwardTango Sat 03-Oct-09 12:58:16

Not at all qualified in this, but I was under the impression he would have to support the DC's until they are 18, especially if he only has responsibility for them a few days a month.

starwhores Sat 03-Oct-09 13:01:16

Your H probably has another woman, better settlement for you I think? Or simply quicker divorce.

alwaysindoubt Sat 03-Oct-09 13:07:18

I'm going through this right now. The question is what is best for the children. If it's best that they stay in their home and you can't afford it on your own then he will have to make that possible. Not for ever. The house will have to be sold when the youngest leaves full time education. The split is unlikely to be 50/50. You will also probably be entitled to some of his pension. If you jointly own the business, then probably there is negotiation there too. Don't be frightened.

TheCrackFox Sat 03-Oct-09 13:07:33

Start photocopying everything - pay slips, bank accounts etc. Whilst he is telling you a pile of crap he will be shifting money around.

mumoverseas Sat 03-Oct-09 13:34:17

sorry about the breakdown of your marriage. A difficult time.
Your 'ex' is living on another planet if he thinks he can get away with 20% of his net income and that is it.
He has obviously been looking at the old CSA calculations where is was 15% for 1, 20% for 2 and 25% for 3 or more children. This is obviously only for the children, not for yourself.

In some situations, it is appropriate for there to be an Order for spousal maintenance. Your situation sounds like it is appropriate. Your youngest child is only 2 and therefore no Court would expect you to rush back to work now if it was previously agreed you'd be a SAHM.
You say you cannot go back to your former career therefore it is not unreasonable for you to be able to re-train and therefore it may be appropriate for spousal maintenance to be paid for a set period of time (could be anything from 2 years upwards) to enable you to re-train and then get yourself back to work and back on your feet financially.

It is impossible to say how much you could get without knowing all the figures but if as you say, your H is a high earner, then it is possible that you could get a significant amount which together with the child maintenance could be enough for you to 'run' a house on your own with the children. Don't forget you will get a reduction in council tax which will help. Ideally you could stay in the former matrimonial home but if this is not an option then possibly you could be re-housed in a cheaper and more manageable property.

You have received other good advice already. As Thecrackfox has said, copy as much as you can with regards to his financial disclosure

As said above, potentially you could also have a claim on his pension and business.

Good luck to you

tiredoftherain Sat 03-Oct-09 13:46:57

Thanks all, great advice, I have already photocopied everything I can find, I have stacks of things hidden away just in case.

I think he is indeed negotiating low to start with. I don't want to play games though, he is far and away more skilled at negotiation than me. I just want whats fair, and while he's on a good six figure salary, don't want to be struggling with the dc's after my career has been sidelined so I could support him and bring the children up. It just isn't fair, as I had considerable earning potential in my old job.

I won't be staying in the home, and plan on swapping our 5 bed house for a 3 bed one in a rural village nearer my family. I'm fine with that, we didn't need the space we have and I want a fresh start. I'd like to keep my car, and be able to work part time until the youngest starts secondary school.

H's pension is the business in some ways, so it's important I get access to some of the money locked up in that. He's a pro at manipulating the figures though, so I'm going to need my solicitor to be right on the ball. What a nightmare this all is..

mumoverseas Sat 03-Oct-09 13:53:13

from the little information you have provided it definitely sounds like a case for spousal maintenance. Have you any idea what you would like to do career wise? You should start thinking about that and looking into training courses. Does your 2 year old go to nursery? If so, maybe you could start doing a college course, either at a college or by correspondance course. NEC is a college that do a lot of distance learning courses that can easily fit into the life of a SAHM. I've done a few courses over recent years and they are perfect for when you don't have the time or can't commit to a set day/time.

Collaborative law is a really good idea as hopefully you will be able to avoid going to Court. At least if you are both signed up with Resolution members you will have a good chance of settling amicably which is obviously in the best interests of the children

ilovemydogandmrobama Sat 03-Oct-09 13:54:33

50/50 is generally the starting point, and depends on a number of factors including how much it would cost to house both of you, value of current house, assets, debts etc

In some cases, it can be 60/40, 70/30. Not sure I've heard of a 80/20 split, but am sure it has happened.

If finances are his business, and you don't want to play games, just make sure it's a level playing field smile

mumoverseas Sat 03-Oct-09 13:57:38

<mos waves at ilovemydog and thanks her for 'defending' her last week> grin

tiredoftherain Sat 03-Oct-09 16:18:59

Thanks again. I want to do something like educational psychology or possibly evencounselling, which is a far cry from the sales management job I used to have, and already have an (irrelevant) degree so would need to do a post grad course. This is likely to take 3 years on a part time basis and could be done while ds1 is at school and ds2 is at nursery.

Where 50-50 is mentioned, is this just joint assets? If so, it's not a great amount to get me started. What proportion of H's income is reasonable, and for so long? Sorry, I'm so clueless. H is patronising me as I type this about how little I know about the whole process - hmm

mumoverseas Sat 03-Oct-09 17:03:54

ooh, thats a good one to re-train as because it will take a few years grin I think you might find it could take longer than 3 years part time. I'm actually doing a distance learning course myself and even the first very basic introduction one has taken me a year.

The starting point of 50/50 is often used but it is impossible to say what the likely outcome will be as every case is different. The Courts main priority is the welfare of the children and that they (and obviously you) are re-housed adequately. It is all down to needs. If you have a 5 bedroom now and are downgrading to a 3 bed then hopefully this is affordable and you could potentially receive enough capital to enable you to purchase a smaller property.
Sometimes if the wife needs the lions share of the equity of the former matrimonial home to re-house then the husband is left with a lesser share which is unfair. In these circumstances an order is sometimes made which provides that at a time in the future (often your re-marriage, voluntary sale of the property, death (sorry!) or the youngest child reaching 16/17/18) then the property is sold and he would receive 'his' share, whatever that is determined to have been (ie 30%/40% etc depending on circumstances)

It is impossible to give actual figures as everything needs to be taken into account. His income, your income (ie if you work part time and the child benefit etc), both parties NEEDS, ie to provide a roof over yours heads, feed and clothe etc.

Sorry your DH is being an arse and patronising you. So he knows it all does he? What is he, a qualified family lawyer or maybe a County Court Judge? Ignore him, he is trying to knock your confidence, don't let him.

Right, off to feed baby now, will be on here tomorrow. Just look smug later and let him think you are confident and aren't being scared by him grin

tiredoftherain Sat 03-Oct-09 17:14:26

mumoverseas, thank you! That's really helpful. H is in finance, and deals with mergers, acquisitions and legal stuff all the time, and is also an arrogant cock, so thinks he knows it all! I've financial but no legal experience at all, and clearly you don't know anything about divorce law until you have the misfortune of needing to.

He has just offered 50% salary for first 3-4 years plus half of assets and then 20% from then on. I think I'll need to ask a solicitor if this sounds fair as I really don't know how you put a value on what he's expecting me to do and feel too emotional to be objective tbh. I strongly believe that uprooting the dc's and then expecting them to adjust to new childminders and after school clubs straightaway so I can work full time is not the best thing for them.

He has just told me I need to "pull my finger out" and get back to work. That would be the job 300 miles away I left to support him in his dream career when ds1 arrived. He can't understand what I'm making a fuss about, there are apparently £40k management jobs all over the place (I doubt there's a single one in the economically deprived area we live in). He fails to understand how 4 years out of work has knocked my confidence, without the stress of this to deal with. I don't know how we're going to salvage anything amicable if he carries on, and we do need to. angry I need a steam coming out of ears emoticon..

TheCrackFox Sat 03-Oct-09 17:24:25

He sounds like a prick. No real advice except you are well rid of him.

anothermum92 Sat 03-Oct-09 19:29:10

Message withdrawn

mamas12 Sat 03-Oct-09 23:33:55

Honestly tired stop discussing this with him.
Go to a solicitor or a very good financial mediator and deal with it that way. It is a lot moree complex than what he is trying to push onto you. He is selling you all so short.

mumoverseas Sun 04-Oct-09 04:57:36

morning tiredoftherain,
Crackfox has summed it up pretty damm well actually. He is being a prick. He is taking advantage of you having lost your confidence whilst being a SAHM. I had the same situation (not my DH being a prick) as I had a 3 year 'career break' when I moved away from work for DH's work and found I was losing my confidence. Thats why I started doing various training courses and so far have done a family mediation course, am mid-way through a counselling course and ironically, have just done a collaborative law course.

I know you said you were hoping to use collaborative law and it could work for you which would obviously be far better than going to court. With regards to mediation however, if he is a bully, which it sounds like he is, then this may not work as mediation cannot work if one person is clearly putting pressure on the other. Certainly worth considering/trying though.
Have you found yourself a solicitor who is a member of Resolution yet?

He is being very unrealistic and somewhat stupid if he seriously expects after a 4 year break for you to walk back into a 40k job. I mean no disrespect to you with regards to that, its just that as you say, with the current climate, it will not be that easy. It is unreasonable of him to expect you to work full time with your youngest only 2 years old and if at the end of the day, it was agreed you'd be a SAHM until the DC were older, just because you are divorcing, that should not change. I'm pretty sure at a first mediation session or his first appt with his solicitor this will be explained to him. If there is enough money in the 'matrimonial pot' for you to stay at home with the DC and re-train, then this is not unreasonable.

I hope he is not stressing you out too much x

commeuneimage Sun 04-Oct-09 07:04:49

I'm in a similar position and would echo the others' advice to put it all in a lawyer's hands as soon as possible. My soon-to-be ex wanted us to agree the finances between ourselves, but I have refused because I thought I would end up with less than I was entitled to - which is at least 50% of the assets and 50% of his income.

Initially I thought it would be wrong to take so much, as he has earned nearly all of it in his high-powered legal career while I have earned very little. But I changed my mind when I realised that if I took less than I was entitled to, there was a risk that some other woman would end up with assets which should have gone to our children.

You need to take all you can, especially as you will never catch up with his earning capacity; and if your husband is typical he will not want to spend money on the children in the same way as you will.

Best of luck to you in this stressful time.

ninedragons Sun 04-Oct-09 08:19:35

I agree with mamas12 and the others. Don't talk to him. He is trying to screw you. He is feeling around to see what sort of figure would satisfy you.

Get a lawyer - a really, really good one. This is crucial - don't go to some useless twunt with an office upstairs over the chip shop. And then go after every penny to which you're entitled. Don't let him try negotiate his own settlement with you - you will end up being fucked over.

ABetaDad Sun 04-Oct-09 08:46:21

tiredoftherain - both you and your husband each need to hir your own top London lawyers from top practices who are used to negotiating divorce settlements involving high earning City people. As you know, The City pay and benefits packages are extremely complex and you need someone who knows how those pay packages work including equity and share options as well as basic pay. The bonus / equity / options packages in the City are worth many many times the basic pay. The M&A business is booming again this year and bonus packages are expected to be very high compared to the last few years and are likley to be in future years too but not guaranteed. Clean break settlement that is fair to both in these cases is very complex to work out.

You also each need to hire a really top accountant who can sit down together to work out the value of the business you jointly own. I buy and sell businesses for a livig and it is extremely difficult to do at the moment. A business is not just worth just the value of the net assets on its balance sheet but the ongoing future value of the godwill as well. That is hard to work out but there are accepted methods such as multiples of turnover.

In my view you should be doing this through a formal court process and not via a mediated setlement process. The courts are far more used to dealing with divorce settlements for high earners and more likley to reach fair settlements that do not result in ongoing disputes.

Mediated settlement only works well where the pay and assets are fairly easy to value.

Finally, the negotiating should be done by accountants and lawyers - not you and your husband. Again you are more likely to both reach fair and final settlement this way.

tatt Sun 04-Oct-09 09:19:30

"He has just offered 50% salary for first 3-4 years plus half of assets and then 20% from then on."

That's not a terrible starting point for discussion - providing stock options and bonuses are included in the salary figures, which I guess he sort of forgot to mention, and that income from the business (unless this has been sold) is included. He does need to provide support for you for a time, although not for life. Also the valuation of assets would need to be done fairly, not on his valuation.

However I totally agree that you need to get advice on this from a lawyer who is used to dealing with high earners. You don't have to use them to go through the whole court procedure but you do need support in the negotiations and in the valuation of assets.

ilovemydogandmrobama Sun 04-Oct-09 09:38:00

<<waves to MOS, not that you needed defending...wink>>

You can do both. Mediation and the legal process can work along side each other, or at least form the basis of a settlement. Perhaps work out contact arrangements in mediation and the finances with a solicitor, especially as you suggest that he is a much better negotiator than you.

Not sure whether anyone can determine what's a good settlement in the absence of full disclosure.

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