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WEBCHAT GUIDELINES: 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. 5. If one topic or question threatens to overwhelm the webchat, MNHQ will usually ask for people to stop repeating the same question or point.

MNHQ have commented on this thread

Webchat with family law barrister Paula Rhone-Adrien on divorce during lockdown and more - Tuesday 9 June at 8.30pm
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BojanaMumsnet · 08/06/2020 10:30

Hello

We’re pleased to announce a webchat with Paula Rhone-Adrien, a family law barrister with over two decades of experience, practising from Lamb Building Chambers.

Paula will be able to answer questions about the divorce process during lockdown, financial protection, emotional self-care, custody arrangements and domestic abuse.

Paula regularly attends Court representing clients across the social spectrum, from
the Magistrates' Court to the Court of Appeal, in a range of areas including: divorce
and finances; disputes between parents regarding where their child should live or
how much time they should spend with the other; the region/country a child should
live in; child welfare, be that the concerns of social services regarding negligent
parenting (sexual, physical or emotional abuse) or one parent accusing the other;
and domestic abuse (representing the alleged victim or the alleged perpetrator).

Paula is a BBC Expert Voice and has worked with a number of broadcast networks and TV production companies in the UK. You can listen to Paula on this episode on marriage on BBC Woman’s Hour.

Post your questions on this thread or join us live at 8.30pm on Tuesday 9 June.

Please note any answers from Paula will be the general stance taken by the Family Courts as opposed to specific to the individual’s case - and please do not include any names or anything that could identify where the person/child lives.

As always, please remember our guidelines - one question per user, follow-ups only if there’s time and most questions have been answered, and please keep it civil. Also if one topic is dominating a thread, mods might request that people don't continue to post what's effectively the same question or point. (We may suspend the accounts of anyone who continues after we've posted to ask people to stop, so please take note.) Rest assured we will ALWAYS let the guest know that it's an area of concern to multiple users and will encourage them to engage with those questions.

Many thanks,
MNHQ

Webchat with family law barrister Paula Rhone-Adrien on divorce during lockdown and more - Tuesday 9 June at 8.30pm
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Delbelleber · 08/06/2020 11:36

Hi Paula.
I have recently had a baby and I have decided not to put his dad on the birth certificate or allow him contact. When I found out I was pregnant I begged him to get help in controlling his anger. This was not taken well by him and we spent much of the pregnancy arguing/me trying to explain why his behaviour is wrong via email although I kept giving him more chances to prove he could change. He is very quick to lose his temper and start shouting, sometimes threatening. Police have been involved on 3 occasions. My midwife and health visitor advised me that he would need to be assessed by social services before he would be allowed to see the baby unsupervised.
He has been very demanding about seeing the baby alone and I have refused. I've been ignoring him for a week and he has threatened me with a solicitors letter.
I'm worried a solicitor could potentially get him rights to my baby which I don't think is in the best interest of the child. He told me if I wanted him to get counceling I could pay for it because its so expensive but if he employs a solicitor that tells me he wants the baby without making any effort to change his behaviour. He doesn't see a problem with his behaviour and turns it around on me blaming me.
Do you have any advice for me? We are in Scotland. Many thanks.

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PicaK · 08/06/2020 12:26

Recently separated. I was sahm to 2 kids - still am sahm but my eldest (11) has chosen to stay at his dad's a lot. This only works atm because dad is working from home due to covid.
When dad is back to long hours, trips away etc, will it work against me because of this covid period?
No finances split or absolute applied for.
I guess mainly I'm asking how courts will see the lockdown period

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Brela · 08/06/2020 16:17

Hello Paula,

My partner and I have a 9 month old baby girl and we recently separated.

I moved to be near my family and I left with the help of Changing Pathways as they believed I was being emotionally abused.
I left a letter to say I was not preventing my partner seeing his daughter but I wanted to move to where I had a support network where I felt we could come to an agreement for child arrangements.

We tried mediation and the mediator gave us a certificate to say we couldn't mediate.
My partner has filed a C100 and started court proceedings to formalize child arrangements.

I have proposed that he has our daughter 3 out of 4 weekends and one weekend I can have her to be able to see her maternal family that may otherwise be working in the week. We can then come to an arrangement of when he sees her during the week at that time.

He would like every Thursday night to Sunday and to put her in nursery for the entirety of Friday's.

I don't believe this is in her best interests to go to nursery where he lives when I am available to look after her that day until I drop her off.

I have said that I can drop her off earlier if he isn't working and I am happy for her to have long weekends and stay longer with him when he isn't working.

I feel that at her age and stage of development and considering she is now moving from two homes that nursery will be too much for her.

I am currently not working so I appreciate I have quality time with her in the week but I just do not think nursery is in her best interest.

Have you worked on similar cases and seek outcomes where parents get 50/50 custody and babies go to nursery when there is an available parent to look after them on that day?

I know it can happen and I don't want to be unreasonable but I just can't see why my ex is putting quantity of time above quality of time with our 9 month old baby girl.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Many thanks,

Brela

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Bigpooh13 · 08/06/2020 17:08

Hi Paula

My husband left me and bought a house with his ex . 20 years together and we worked together in a business. He wont do financial disclosure bullys n threatens me into his financial offer but has now withdrawn it. He has bought another house and says no longer afford this morgage on our house. Im unable to work due to back issues that happened working with him. Hes taking the car off me. I have no money left to support myself and not entitled to benefits. I want to fight him But cant afford a solicitor. What can I do.

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39suzy · 08/06/2020 17:28

Emotional abuser, have this last week got electronic reorts /proof that he has been checking my phone (with his image). Police have been called previously for domestic violence but no action taken (i have the letter from the police with an incident number though).

Says he has videos of me losing my temper (which I don't believe, it's just a threat to make me stay).

What are the chances of him being awarded any custody or visitation if previous behaviour is documented as he says if i left he would take my baby off me.

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LouisaB1312 · 08/06/2020 18:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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Skolly · 08/06/2020 20:35

Paula, what are your top tips on protecting yourself financially when your husband was the main earner for the family. And how do you start figuring out what is the best for the children with regards to childcare arrangements for primary aged children.
Thanks

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Zisforstripyoss · 08/06/2020 21:16

Hi Paula,

I want to seperate / divorce but I know my husband will not move out as he sees the house as "his" - even though it is in both our names. I am primary carer of 2 children and work part time. Where do I stand and are there any legal options to get him out of the house or would it be on me to move out with the children into a rental?

There is no domestic violence, infidelity etc but he will not be amicable.

Thank you.

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Billionnairewannabe · 08/06/2020 21:21

Hi Paula
My abusive ex chose to terminate contact 7 years ago, despite a very generous contact order. Fast forward to lockdown and he's taken my 14 year old who had suddenly started self-harming. Within 5 days of having him, he filed for full custody (citing years of emotional abuse by me!) and no contact with me. Son has been refusing to see/speak to me. Classic case of Parental Alienation. First hearing last week Judge mentioned PA and ordered full CAFCASS S7 report. I have been begging social services, CAHMs etc to step in but they haven't.
How do I persuade CAFCASS that PA is what is going on here and do they have a proper format for dealing with it? Can I get CAFCASS to act with urgency as it also transpires that immediately prior to the self-harm, the father was the last person to speak to him? No-one has investigated this, despite my repeated requests. Social Services just treating it as custody battle whereas I am treating it as child protection. Son is still with him until CAFCASS report, and has been completely isolated from me, his older brother and extended family.
I sincerely hope the courts don't just take everything at face value and have a better understanding of PA than social services!
Many thanks for any advice.

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Time4change123 · 08/06/2020 23:52

Hi Paula
Split from husband 5 years. Horrific divorce with allegations made by him and ended up in family court. Allegations resulted in SS being involved. Thankfully all was proven untrue and order states that children live with me and spend every other weekend with dad. The marriage was abusixe and involvement from women's aid.

Kids are happy and well but even after all this time, I am looking over my shoulder and frightened to put a foot wrong. Any mistake I make I panic that he will take me to court to try to get the children to reside with him.
We will need to agree on schools of choice for the children in the near future and I already know he will make this difficult. One of my children are quite anxious and I don't want a load of difficulty surrounding the choice of school. I have moved a little away from where we previously lived. Children have been able to stay in primary school they were in. I just know already that he will cause difficulty because he will want to control the school choices and has a way of kind of grooming my kids to get his way

I am beside myself with worry all the.time. my questions are:

Am I right that unless, for example, my children were unsafe with me for any reason, it is unlikely that the court would just change who the kids live with?

And if we cannot agree on school choices moving forward, would we need to then go back to court for a specific issue?

I just need some reassurance as I am constantly worried.

Thanks

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edwinbear · 09/06/2020 00:45

Hi Paula,

I wanted to ask if, as the sole earner, I would be likely to have to pay spousal maintenance to unemployed DH if he and I divorced?

He is 53, made redundant in November and simply refusing to look for another job. I am 45, earning just over 6 figures. 2 DC’s (10 & 8) married for 16 years. DC would stay with me and I can just about manage the household bills (including school fees), but not if I had to pay him maintenance.

I am presuming the court would expect the family house to be sold and the equity split (given he has no means to house himself), or I would need to buy him out of his share if I wanted the DC and I to remain in the house?

Many thanks

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mum2our4 · 09/06/2020 07:32

Husband (together 24yrs, married 8 1/2) left, leaving me having to claim benefits due to being full time carer to our youngest son who still isn't in full time school (age 7). We have teenager about to attend SEN college course. Two older children at university. We both went back to uni but he then did ok in his career but even when I worked two jobs mine always worked around him and the kids. I've mostly worked part-time since having children.
He took a year to pay reasonable maintenance and is ignoring my request for pension details. How can I get the best support for myself and protect the childrens needs? Youngest may well be long-term dependent.

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Abbcccus · 09/06/2020 07:43

@edwinbear

My situation exactly...
Except I have moved into rented accommodation that I can only afford for a short while, not permanently

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SoniaShoe · 09/06/2020 12:24

Hi Paula
I am about to sign the agreement for a family lawyer to start getting involved in a separation with my partner (not married, joint owners of family home, 2 DC). Their proposed route is 1. Letter setting out position, 2. Mediation, 3. Courts. The court stage costing me upwards of £30k.

My question is if we did have to get to stage 3 could the cost be paid for out of the proceeds of the house sale and be split? I am worried about going that far and not getting agreement on the house being sold so having to stay with him plus a £30-40k loan to repay! Thank you for any insights you have

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chikynoonoo · 09/06/2020 12:57

Hi Paula

Recently split with partner and im currently in the family house with children. I would like information on joint mortgage/child maintenance. If ex is paying his half of the mortgage does this alter child maintenance payments?
Thank you

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FlowerArranger · 09/06/2020 13:31

Is this Webchat archived somewhere?
How can I listen to it?

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QueenBee42 · 09/06/2020 14:18

Hi, I left my husband in July last year, he didnt take it very well, he wouldnt leave the family home but caused such awful situations in front of our three children( 11, 8 and 4 at the time), i had no option but to take out a loan and get my self a rental property. We were meant to go to mediation but after him getting a non molestation order against me (with no evidence as said by the judge) then losing his temper in court and calling me a liar to the judge I have decided it will be a waste of money. The petition has gone in and we are at degree nisi stage, I have got my solicitor to put a good offer to him, the house to be sold and equity split 50/50, no maintenance for the kids or me (I have them 8 nights/him 6 out of 14nights) and I dont want any of the contents of the house. He isnt answering my solicitors letter, he wanted to go for an occupation order on the house but hadnt served me the relevant paperwork. Can he keep staling this process and he knows I need the house sold to clear my debts and organise a new mortgage so I can leave this very expensive rental. I have also got myself a job and am earning enough to fund myself and our children. Can I force the sale of the house?

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SarahMcDonald · 09/06/2020 14:50

We’ve been married 20 years, both in our 50s, children of 14 and 16. We’ve lived separate lives under the same roof for 4 years - his choice.

He works abroad for several weeks at a time and when he’s in the UK he works at least 50 hours a week. I have always been the main carer for the children.

He refuses to move out of the house and says that I cannot force him. I CAN afford to buy him out of his half but he will not accept.

The children don’t want to leave their home and move to another school, they have lived here all their lives.

How can I get him to leave?

Are there advantages / disadvantages of waiting until the youngest child is 16?

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TirisfalPumpkin · 09/06/2020 15:28

Hello, thanks for coming on.

I have a relatively straightforward separation - no kids, no debts apart from mortgage, short marriage, fairly amicable so far. We want to avoid our entire liquid assets getting swallowed up getting solicitors to negotiate the financial split or ending in court. The whole lot (equity plus cash) is worth around 100k.

My question is how do I formalise the informal arrangement we are making, so I'm not left open to later claims? We are splitting roughly along the lines of our deposit contributions, so 80:20 in my favour. This will still leave him plenty to house himself and so far he's happy with it, but I can envisage a scenario where friends/family members get involved and decide it's unfair. Can we get our agreement witnessed or something similar?

Thanks in advance.

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Slingsanderrors · 09/06/2020 17:44

Hello Paula,
I’m almost 65, retired and hoping to split ASAP from my husband of 15 years. He doesn’t know yet and won’t take it well so I need to get my facts right.
We jointly own a house worth approx £200k (no mortgage) and have about £75k each in savings. No shared children. We both have small pensions that we could survive on (his bigger than mine).

I really want a clean break. My main question is, if I leave (he’s unlikely to) can he be forced to sell the house?

I really can’t afford solicitors fees if I can help it.

Thank you

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BojanaMumsnet · 09/06/2020 18:19

@FlowerArranger

Is this Webchat archived somewhere?
How can I listen to it?

Hi @FlowerArranger,

You'll be able to read all the answers on this discussion thread - Paula will start posting from 8.30pm tonight. This thread won't be moved or archived, so you can come back to it whenever you want.
OP's posts:
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FitInABit · 09/06/2020 18:48

Hi Paula
I live with my partner. We own a house together. Small mortgage, joint tenants. We have a child together.
I want to separate, sell the house and split the equity. I doubt that he could afford to buy me out. It is likely that he will be extremely difficult. I expect he will refuse to allow anyone to view the house for the foreseeable future due to coronavirus - even when lock down ends.
Do I have any rights if he refuses to allow anyone in the house? He's working fulltime from home so is always here.
Thanks

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millymoo1202 · 09/06/2020 19:57

@Zisforstripyoss I am in exactly same situation so am interested in the reply

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Momentumneeded · 09/06/2020 20:28

Hi. I would be interested to understand how things work with a direct access barrister v barrister instructed by solicitor.

Also please can you give an overview of how the hearings play out. Does the judge see Form Es in advance. What is the starting point for negotiation if you have v differing viewpoints/ earning potential. Just like to understand the approach taken. Is it assumed 50-50 and then reviewed in terms of needs? How does this work in practice?

Thank you.

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PaulaRhoneAdrien · 09/06/2020 20:31

Good evening everyone, so good to see you all. Thank you for your questions which I am going to try to answer. Bear with me. However, please don't worry, if i don't get to you all, i am sure we will have another opportunity to do this again.

Experts' posts:
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