Your browser isn't supported
It looks like you're using an old web browser. To get the most out of the site and to ensure guides display correctly, we suggest upgrading your browser now. Download the latest:

Welcome to the MSE Forums

We're home to a fantastic community of MoneySavers but anyone can post. Please exercise caution & report spam, illegal, offensive or libellous posts/messages: click "report" or email forumteam@.

Search
  • FIRST POST
    • twiglet98
    • By twiglet98 7th Oct 16, 10:34 PM
    • 773Posts
    • 3,734Thanks
    twiglet98
    Divorce, joint property, making sense of his offer
    • #1
    • 7th Oct 16, 10:34 PM
    Divorce, joint property, making sense of his offer 7th Oct 16 at 10:34 PM
    I’m trying to summarise my soon-to-be-ex-husband’s plan for a financial settlement before the ball starts rolling to divorce and I'm not at all sure his plan is workable. I can't see the wood for the trees, and if I have to find a solicitor I need bullet points to cover in a free half-hour - if a solicitor worth using offers that anyway. I suppose the good ones don't, and I can't even afford a rubbish one.

    I’m 60, he is 57. We separated in 1997 with kids of 11, 9 and 5, I stayed here with them, he bought another house in his sole name. We still have a joint mortgage here and this house is owned in both names as joint tenants. The repayment mortgage has under 6 years and £30k outstanding, he has continued to pay it since he moved out. His other mortgage is bigger, with a different provider. Our building society does not know he doesn’t live here.

    He has his own business, apparently paying himself minimum wage but taking a share of profits giving a pretty healthy income (though I don’t know how much). I work full time on a few pence over minimum wage. I could not afford to take on the mortgage. He does not want any exploration of affordability as on paper his ‘wage’ will not support either mortgage. His creditworthiness is shot after a series of debt problems in the past.

    I guess he wants to remarry and his plan is that we divorce now, using forms downloaded from an online DIY service, he will continue to pay the mortgage until it’s cleared and THEN this house will be transferred into my sole name, and he will sign a letter promising this. He does not want to use solicitors, he is not prepared to discuss income, outgoings, investments, inheritances or pensions as effectively giving me the house is a fair settlement.

    I don’t think the DIY forms are suitable if we will still jointly own this house with a joint mortgage, and we are going round in circles as he insists this is what we will do. It leaves me terribly vulnerable. There is no guarantee that he could or would pay the mortgage until it’s cleared. As he is self employed he has no Accident Sickness and Unemployment cover, he says he has Critical Illness insurance and life cover that would pay off the mortgage, but if his income dried up through business problems or an accident or illness that stopped him working, I'd have no protection. There is also the obviously possible scenario that he could change his mind and just decide to stop paying it. I doubt the building society would repossess with such a low amount and short term outstanding, but I’m far from sure.

    My nature is to hide my head in the sand, put up and shut up, and not rock the boat. His is to be one step ahead and always keep a card up his sleeve, he likes to make the rules rather than play by them. I’m worried at being in such a vulnerable position if I agree to his suggestion, worried at dropping him in it if I instruct a solicitor, worried about the trouble we’ll both be in if I tell our building society he moved out years ago. If any action I take results in his finances being frozen, it's disastrous for us all.


    If selling this house is the best way forward that’s another set of problems as it’s in a terrible state structurally and decoratively, I can’t afford to get it fixed, it wouldn’t pass a survey and wouldn’t sell for enough for me to buy anywhere else in this area where my kids are. Perhaps I would need a valuation though if I do need legal advice? Do estate agents charge to do a valuation, whether or not they're expecting instructions to sell it?

    My ex knows I can’t afford professional advice. I’m spiralling into despair and would really appreciate an opinion from the outside.

    Thanks for reading this essay.
    Last edited by twiglet98; 07-10-2016 at 10:38 PM. Reason: sp
Page 2
    • peachyprice
    • By peachyprice 8th Oct 16, 5:04 PM
    • 17,339 Posts
    • 39,478 Thanks
    peachyprice
    One wonders how much of the 'theoretical £2 million' he would have had the time and freedom to earn if he had been the one stuck at home looking after 3 young children!
    Originally posted by paddy's mum

    Assuming the OP wanted residency of the children when they split, possibly a moot point. Conversely, if they'd had 50/50 residency there was nothing stopping OP going out and making money either.

    And at 5, 9 and 11, they were hardly '3 young children'.
    Last edited by peachyprice; 08-10-2016 at 5:11 PM.
    Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence and face your future without fear
    • -taff
    • By -taff 8th Oct 16, 8:48 PM
    • 6,468 Posts
    • 3,735 Thanks
    -taff
    And at 5, 9 and 11, they were hardly '3 young children'.
    Originally posted by peachyprice

    Young enough to not be able to look after themselves.
    • seven-day-weekend
    • By seven-day-weekend 8th Oct 16, 9:02 PM
    • 27,837 Posts
    • 51,113 Thanks
    seven-day-weekend
    Don't divorce until he has signed the house over to you.
    To love someone is to learn the song in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten it
    'I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because I see everything by it': C.S. Lewis
    St. Augustine ó 'In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.'
    • peachyprice
    • By peachyprice 8th Oct 16, 9:15 PM
    • 17,339 Posts
    • 39,478 Thanks
    peachyprice
    Young enough to not be able to look after themselves.
    Originally posted by -taff
    More than old enough for the mother to get a job while they were at school!
    Accept your past without regret, handle your present with confidence and face your future without fear
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 8th Oct 16, 9:54 PM
    • 4,870 Posts
    • 6,385 Thanks
    TBagpuss
    You need to get advice and he will need to provide proper disclosure of his financial situation.

    Quite apart from anything else, a court can't, and won't, approve even an agreed financial settlement unless it is accompanied by a statement of information giving at least a summary of both parties circumstances.

    Among other things, think about what *you* want. Do you want to downsize so you don't have the worry of the mortgage or of staying in a poorly maintained property, for instance.

    No one, including you, your solicitor and your ex, can judge whether his proposal is reasonable unless you both give proper disclosure.

    And, particularly if he is not cooperating, then you absolutely cannot afford not to get proper advice.

    Many family lawyers, including very good ones, give initial free consultations but they won't, at a single consultation without proper information, be able to tell you whether they settlement offer is reasonable, they will only be able to tell you that you need proper disclosure.
    • twiglet98
    • By twiglet98 9th Oct 16, 2:02 AM
    • 773 Posts
    • 3,734 Thanks
    twiglet98
    Late in from a TV night at DD1's house, I'm so grateful for all your responses and will reply after work on Sunday. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to share your thoughts.
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 9th Oct 16, 8:54 AM
    • 12,052 Posts
    • 11,476 Thanks
    Guest101
    Why? nobody (including the OP) know what the husbands worth is. If he is worth 2 million and she has been offered a house worth £200K would you still think she has been quite well off so far?

    The husband wont have just being paying the mortgage as he is kind, he will have been paying it as he doesn't want his credit record ruined. As he owns his own business I don't think a ruined credit rating would do him any favours. He will be aware the OP can't afford the mortgage and probably wouldn't pay it, so he has no choice but to pay to keep his credit record clean.
    Originally posted by iammumtoone
    Yes I would, they separated in 1997, and he continued to pay for her house, for 20 years.

    Regardless of his worth now, she's done well.
    • Guest101
    • By Guest101 9th Oct 16, 8:56 AM
    • 12,052 Posts
    • 11,476 Thanks
    Guest101
    Maybe. Maybe not. I can see where you're coming from, but with very little information regarding their financial net worth when they separated, he might not have been that generous at all. Maybe he had a few million tucked away.
    Originally posted by Lunar Eclipse
    true, but if he did it would make sense to just buy out the mortgage
    • chesky
    • By chesky 9th Oct 16, 1:17 PM
    • 575 Posts
    • 754 Thanks
    chesky
    Yes I would, they separated in 1997, and he continued to pay for her house, for 20 years.

    Regardless of his worth now, she's done well.
    Originally posted by Guest101
    z

    Depends on how much the house (and mortgage) was originally. House prices have increased hugely since the 1980s so the ex was probably paying what we might consider peanuts.

    OP do get a good solicitor. I note that you seem to have a couple of small occupational pensions (so you have been working) but do you know how much they will bring in.
    • twiglet98
    • By twiglet98 9th Oct 16, 9:53 PM
    • 773 Posts
    • 3,734 Thanks
    twiglet98
    Iím massively grateful for the thoughts and advice so far, thank you to all that have taken the trouble to reply.

    I know I'm lucky that he has always paid the mortgage on this house. The monthly payments are only about 25% of the cost of his own mortgage. I don't know how long that has to run, nor whether his present girlfriend makes any contribution. When we first got together we were co-workers and I was the higher earner. He was brought up largely by nannies until boarding school at seven and was very keen that I should be at home for the children. We relocated when he changed job and his career rise was extraordinary. When we separated he was an employee on a 6-figure salary. He volunteered a figure for monthly maintenance which he gave me until my youngest was 17, when a debt crisis led to his bank freezing his account and he has had debt issues ever since.


    When he left I got a part time job within school hours, this is a rural location and the kids were at school outside our catchment area so could only get there by car. I went full time when the youngest started 6th form college accessible on public transport. I am still in the same job, on £7.50/hour with no prospect of it increasing.

    He wants to divorce without telling the building society, he says he'll carry on paying the mortgage, the financial agreement would consist of a letter from him promising to transfer the house to my name after the mortgage is paid off in 5-6 years. I think this is untenable, not because I think he would choose not to pay it but nobody knows what's around the corner and he could suffer an accident or illness that left him unable to earn, or his own business could well crash through debts or unforeseen circumstances. There is no provision for his monthly payments to be insured. Legally of course we are jointly liable as it is, and would continue to be, in joint names.

    I have often wondered if the equity in this house is a sort of lifeline, that keeping up these relatively low mortgage payments with the building society unaware that he isn't here, is some semblance of creditworthiness - but the much bigger mortgage on his other house, his credit cards and bank account, and electoral register all have him living elsewhere so that can't be the case. But defaulting on this mortgage would surely adversely affect his credit record and he says he is ineligible for any credit as he is still paying off debts from his crisis in 2009. His intention once had been to clear this mortgage from his late mother's estate but although he helped with some work on this house and supported me through months of cancer treatment, he sunk much of it into unsuccessful business deals and got in a mess for which he was unprepared.

    I had no idea that an online DIY divorce still went before a judge at some point, or that there was still any requirement for declarations of income and outgoings, assets and debts. I guess he doesnít know that either, as he is so determined that we do this entirely between ourselves and donít involve any outside parties. Doesnít worry me, Iíve nothing to hide and Iím perfectly happy putting all my cards on the table, but Iím certain he will not fill in any such declaration, at least not without concealing whatever he wishes to keep secret, he will NOT have his finances scrutinized. I donít suppose anything he filled in could actually be checked for accuracy so if he did it at all it would be fictional figures to give whatever impression he felt most beneficial. He has an advisor helping with tax efficiency and maximising income, I guess theyíve had something to say about this.

    I understand his IFA advised against him seeking a better rate for his own mortgage as he would have to go through an affordability check. For tax purposes he is on the lowest bracket and takes his income as dividend payments, which apparently most lenders will not factor into an affordability calculation. His business does not have a large enough profit margin at present for a lender to be certain that dividends would be paid. His IFA suggested we come to an arrangement between ourselves until it can be paid off. I expect he has in mind the fact that my late motherís house has been transferred into the names of my siblings and I with Land Registry, but her will allows my single, childless brother to continue to live there rent free for his lifetime. My siblings will not consider me using my share of that house as equity for any borrowing so I canít use it to pay this mortgage and will only get my share of her estate if my brother dies before I do. There's no reason to assume he will.


    My work pensions are small, Iíve only paid in £10/week since joining the present one in 2000 and the older one was a non-contributory scheme that I was in for 8 years before leaving to have my first child. The old one's website suggests about £2500 a year and a lump sum of £18000, the current one's last statement says a transfer value of £22000, it doesn't say about a yearly income. Iíd thought of taking a cash lump sum from one when I turned 60, to get the plumbing fixed, and the other broken bits of house sorted out, and clearing my credit cards, but really could not understand it all and havenít pursued it. I donít foresee retiring unless ill health forces it in the future. I don't know if he hopes to retire before state pension age, he'd want to travel and enjoy the high life. He might be counting on his share of his late fatherís estate, which will come to him on his stepmotherís eventual death, to retire. Who knows Ė Iím guessing. Maybe selling up and splitting pensions etc would work, going forward with a clean sheet, it does for some people, but he wonít sell his house as he doubts he could borrow again to buy another, though without mortgage term assurance it looks to me as if the kids would have to sell it to pay off his debtsÖ but if he remarries before his death it will be his wife sorting it out. She isnít sillyÖ

    How do I choose a solicitor? Recommendation? The two Iíd spoken to years ago were hopeless. I donít have any close friends and in any case canít imagine asking anyone about their divorce experience. Iíve looked at the Legal 500 website and imagine that their fees for an hour would exceed my weekly pay.



    Is it worth suggesting to my ex that we attend mediation or just go straight in for legal advice? Should I suggest he downloads his online DIY papers and sends them off with the fee, and see a solicitor after something arrives in the post? How do I proceed from here?


    Another essay. Diarying it this way is actually really helpful I think. I do appreciate input from people looking at it from another angle, who perhaps have personal experience that parallels it in any way. Thank you for sticking with me.
    • chesky
    • By chesky 10th Oct 16, 6:58 AM
    • 575 Posts
    • 754 Thanks
    chesky
    Get a legal opinion so that you know what your options are - your local CAB may have a family solicitor who can give you proper advice.
Welcome to our new Forum!

Our aim is to save you money quickly and easily. We hope you like it!

Forum Team Contact us

Live Stats

237Posts Today

2,274Users online

Martin's Twitter