I know there’s a lot going on here but if you could just pick one of the issues and advise I would be so very grateful.
BACKGROUND: My father has walked out on my Mum after 47 years of marriage; many of which we (Mum and me) lived in fear of his controlling, abusive coercive attitude towards us. He emptied their joint bank accounts, cancelled all the direct debits for the household bills etc, and has not offered to pay a single penny going forwards. My Mum has only her state pension and lower rate PIP, and is unable to work.
My specific questions are:
1. Surely he cannot just walk away without contributing and still expect half the profit from the house sale if/when it sells?
2. We phoned EON (who we have both gas and electricity with) and explained what had happened. They took the crime reference number (from the police having been called out due to his final violent outburst on the day he left), and said they would freeze the account and continue supplying my Mum and await for them to reach an arrangement. My father was the only name on the account. He has since contacted EON and had the accounts put in my Mum’s name and she’s now received a bill for the full amount owed. At no point did anyone from EON contact her to ask for her consent to take on the bill. Is EON at fault here?
3. The big one. Earlier this year my father pressured my Mum into taking a lifetime equity mortgage out on their house – the proceeds of this were supposed to go towards house renovations to make it sellable, instead that’s what he has cleared off with. I also had to agree to the mortgage as I live with them; I had to give verbal consent over a Zoom call and on the day I was crying my eyes out and he was stood behind me whispering in my ear – are the mortgage company negligent for not flagging up my distress and accepting my coerced consent.
I know there’s a lot of questions there but, as he’s taken all their money, we can’t afford a solicitor and legal aid is apparently now very hard to get. My Mum has severe visual impairment and is also in a state of shock and grief after all that has happened so I’m trying to sort things as much as possible.
Thank you for reading this,
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2. I don't think EOn are at fault but you probably have to call them again and explain the situation if you can't afford to pay. The electricity bill is the responsibility of the occupier so given that your dad doesn't live there anymore he's within his rights to tell that to E-On and provide the details of the person who is occupying. E-On might be able to help with costs though so call them.
3. Really don't know on this one it kind of sounds like a police matter to me. I'd probably speak to them at least and see what they suggest. If he has made off with the contents of the bank account then I think that would be a strong case for saying at a minimum that the proceeds of any house sale would be heavily weighted to your mum - I don't know what kind of sums were are talking about. But to get that sorted I would imagine you are going to have to go to court for a financial order.
My advice would be that you probably need to talk to Citizens Advice first and see what they can help with, legal aid is still available in cases of domestic violence I believe so I would pursue that as well. You are going to need a solicitor at some stage really I think as this is going to have to go to court to get resolved. The longer you leave it the worse it will be. Even if you can't get Legal Aid you may find a local solicitor who is willing to agree to deferred payment based on the outcome of the financial order and the equity of the house?
Get a full benefit check for mum in case she can get any other support.
The starting point for a divorce is 50/50 of the equity, but given dad has taken the money from the Lifetime equity mortgage, the amount he's taken may well be considered part of his half. And mum might get more than half.
You need advice on terminating the life-time mortgage.
Ask the police to look at cruel and coercive behaviour and financial abuse
I would contact Women's Aid.
Your father hasn't defrauded the lender, he could have used the money to go on a world cruise with your mother. I don't think contacting the Police(or Action Fraud) will help. The lender won;'t lose any money either, only your mother loses out, and I expect that the financial settlement in the divorce will give her most or all the remaining equity in the property AND some of his pensions!
If your mother receives Pension Credit guarantee credit she should be entitled to some reduction in the court fees for any divorce. Your mother will be in shock, so I would say you need to be supporting her to take sensible decisions about whether to start divorce proceedings yet. She may need to greive for a little longer, but I would not leave it too long before pushing her to see a solicitor.
You might find this link helpful: Getting a divorce or ending your civil partnership - Citizens Advice
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Just ensure that your mum's solicitor knows that they have to obtain a valuation of the pension by means of a Divorce CETV (cash equivalent transfer value). The Divorce Court will then state the percentage to be paid to your mum as part of the Decree Absolute.
Also ensure that your mum insists on a PSO instead of a pension allocation order. With a PSO the funds are transferred into a Civil Service Pension Credit account in her own name, and her monthly pension is paid directly to her. With an allocation order, your dad would continue to receive his full pension, then pay £X to your mum, thus continuing his control over her.
Legal aid is not available for most family cases but it is available if you are applying for an injunction due to domestic abuse and if granted for that, it may be possible to apply to extend the certificate to include financial issues. If she is scared of him and vulnerable then apllying for an injunction to prevent him from being able to just walk back in may be sensible. She can also iclude in that an application for him to pay any monthly costs of the mortgage is there are any .