🗳️ ELECTION 2024: THE MSE LEADERS' DEBATE Got a burning question you want us to ask the party leaders ahead of the general election? Submit your suggestions via this form or post them on our dedicated Forum board where you can see and upvote other users' questions. Please note that the Forum's rules on avoiding general political discussion still apply across all boards.

DIVORCE MESS

Options

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,

«13

Comments

  • tightauldgit
    tightauldgit Posts: 2,628 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Options
    1. He kind of can, I'm afraid. Which is not to say that down the line it won't get resolved and a 'fairer' balance awarded by a court in the future but in the immediate term unless there is some court order in place then he has no obligation to pay anything. 

    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?
  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,856 Forumite
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post
    Options
    Did you take a meter reading the day that dad left as he should be liable for the utilities up until that date.

    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
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • BrassicWoman
    BrassicWoman Posts: 3,206 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post Mortgage-free Glee!
    edited 11 July 2022 at 6:00PM
    Options
    Does dad have a pension? As there is entitlement to a share of it (probably)

    I would contact Women's Aid.
    2021 GC £1365.71/ £2400
  • tacpot12
    tacpot12 Posts: 8,098 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Options
    Regarding point 3, the lender could be guilty of irresponsible lending.. You should ask for any recording of the Zoom call. You can make a Data Subject Access Request for this.  You should watch and listen to it very carefully to see if there really is evidence that you were being coerced. If the evidence is obvious, then you could make a formal complaint to the lender, but if it is subtle, then I don't think anyone will agree that the lender made a mistake - workers in financial organisations aren't mind-readers.

    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
    The comments I post are my personal opinion. While I try to check everything is correct before posting, I can and do make mistakes, so always try to check official information sources before relying on my posts.
  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 33,055 Forumite
    Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary First Post
    Options
    Domestic violence/ Coercive control may qualify your mum for legal aid if she has ways to evidence it. 


    Have a look at this, then see if she can track down a solicitor. Free half hour might be enough to get the ball rolling, or she could contact Women’s Aid. 
    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • hwbt2020
    hwbt2020 Posts: 7 Forumite
    First Post
    Options
    Does dad have a pension? As there is entitlement to a share of it (probably)

    I would contact Women's Aid.
    Yes one which he is very protective over. He was a Prison Officer (and treated us like inmates) and has a Civil; Service pension; when they met he was bouncing around from job to job, my Mum pulled him up, supported him through adult education and encouraged him to better himself every step of the way. All he has achieved in life was within the context of their marriage.
  • powerspowers
    powerspowers Posts: 1,127 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Name Dropper
    Options
    I’m so sorry you and your mum have are going through this. I second the suggestion to get some advice and to get  a solicitor asap. 

    https://survivingeconomicabuse.org/ Are a charity that support victims of financial abuse that may also be able to help. 
    MFW 2021 #76 £5,145
    MFW 2022 #27 £5,300 
    MFW 2023 #27 £2,000
    MFW 2024 #27 £1,350 /£3,600


  • Silvertabby
    Silvertabby Posts: 9,109 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper Photogenic First Post
    edited 12 July 2022 at 11:28AM
    Options
    hwbt2020 said:
    Does dad have a pension? As there is entitlement to a share of it (probably)

    I would contact Women's Aid.
    Yes one which he is very protective over. He was a Prison Officer (and treated us like inmates) and has a Civil; Service pension; when they met he was bouncing around from job to job, my Mum pulled him up, supported him through adult education and encouraged him to better himself every step of the way. All he has achieved in life was within the context of their marriage.
    Ignore your dad if he tries to say that your mum can't touch his pension, because it is already in payment.  From what you have said, your mum should be entitled to a substantial part of that from a PSO (pension sharing order).

    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.
  • henry24
    henry24 Posts: 325 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker
    Options
    What do you mean by a lifetime equity mortgage?
  • TBagpuss
    TBagpuss Posts: 11,205 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited 12 July 2022 at 1:46PM
    Options
    hwbt2020 said:

    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?

     He can expect anything , the issue is whether he gets it.  Ultimately, the aim is to reach a fair setttlement for both of them taking into account all circumstnaces. Normally, particulalry for a long marraige, that would be 50% each of all assets, but a diffferent split can be fair once all factors are considered .

    It's fairly normal for the person who is occupying the family home to be responsible for paying the bills and other outgoings on it 

    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?

    Possibly. If his name was on the bill then your mother should not be billed for anything prior to the date your date moved out or EON was notified. At that point, they should have produced a final bill in his name then set up a new account in yourMum's name. If theytransferred the debtt from the old account toh er then that's not correct . Howecer, if they have set up a new account and the bill is based on her estimated or actual usage then it is pretty standard. 

    If they had told her that it would be frozen then it is not good customer service to have failed to inform her if that was changing  

    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.

     This would be relevant in the finacial settlement., A court can do what is called 'adding back' where if one party has taken assets and spent the money, a court can treat them as still having it or as it still being part of the pot. So if your dad took £100,000 then a court would be free to ttreat him as having that £100,000 already as part of his share of the assets, and prividing for ytour mum to have a simliar amount before the balanceofthe assets were split.

    This kind of calcualation depends on the individual facts - for instnace, it may be that it will be considered reasonablefor him to use some of the funshe has, for isntnace to obtain alteative accommodation, but assuming that the money is a signifcant proportion of the parties total assets, it is unlikely that a court will consider it fair that he reatins that and then gets half of what is left on top. 

    In terms of whether the mortgage lender was negligent - probaly not. It sounds as though you are an occupier butnot an owner - what you were consenting to was that the lender's interests take precedennce over yours - i.e. that you can be evicted if the house were to be repossessed. You don't have a claim to the house.

    It would be much more relvant to look at what your mum signed and in what circumstances . Either way however , rather than trying to blame the mortgagelender your mum's best course of action is likely to be to get a good solicitor and to aim for a suitable finacial settlement. She may be able to ask the court to take into account both that her husband has already had a significant propertion of the assets and possibly also that becaue he took that trather than using it as planned to carry out improvements to the house, that the house value is lower than it would have been. 

    She will be able to seek a % of the equity when the house is sold taking into account what he's already had, and will also be able to seek a share of his pensions (if he has private pensions) and any other assets. 

    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,

    comments in bold above 

    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 . 
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
Meet your Ambassadors

Categories

  • All Categories
  • 8 Election 2024: The MSE Leaders' Debate
  • 343.9K Banking & Borrowing
  • 250.3K Reduce Debt & Boost Income
  • 450K Spending & Discounts
  • 236K Work, Benefits & Business
  • 609.2K Mortgages, Homes & Bills
  • 173.4K Life & Family
  • 248.6K Travel & Transport
  • 1.5M Hobbies & Leisure
  • 15.9K Discuss & Feedback
  • 15.1K Coronavirus Support Boards