Help with financial arrangements after separation

Hi, I know the answers will be here somewhere but I'm struggling to find them and could really use some advice. Really sorry for the long post!

My husband and I separated in July after 30 years of marriage, after he was caught out having an affair. I’m not ashamed to say it’s been utterly devastating and I didn’t see it coming even for a second. He was asked to move out to his parents while things were processed as such but he chose to move straight in with the other woman, and he’s been there ever since.

Things have been reasonably amicable (I’ve tried reallllly hard not to hate him). He was paying towards the household bills until a few weeks back when he stopped the direct debit and withdrew all the money from his account without any warning. I only found out when I got a bank text saying the bill’s account was overdrawn. He has now said he can’t afford to pay for two properties and that I should take him to court. 

He was living rent free with ‘her’ until recently but he suggested she’d now asked him to pay rent. We’ve since discovered he’s actually gone and got a new place with her so will, I assume, be jointly liable for that place. He didn’t tell us about the change of address and I have no idea where he’s living. He’s being really difficult about even discussing money and has completely left me in the lurch money-wise. He’s not even transferring the money for things that are paid out of the joint account like his own insurances, phone bills etc.

We jointly own our home outright and have  2 adult kids (23 and 19) living here. The eldest is saving madly for his own house deposit and the youngest is at uni. We also have a number of pets. We can’t sell the house yet as I can’t afford to buy a house big enough for all of us so we’re waiting for my eldest to move out. Also, there’s stuff that needs to be done to the house to make it saleable.

After probably way too much info, my question is can he just walk away financially? I’ve obvs googled it and believe ‘best practice’ is that both parties carry on as normal until a divorce settlement is reached but is that actually a legal obligation and if he’s not willing to do that, do I have options to pursue it legally? He earns a lot more than me although he is self-employed, and is also selling off assets and keeping the cash.

I’m not trying to be unfair, I know he’s got to live too although I’m a bit mad that he’s over-committed himself financially with a new house when he didn’t need to. We now can’t afford to do the things to our house that need to be done to sell it and I am financially up !!!!!! creek without a paddle and absolutely no-one to rely on!

Also, one other question (sorry), if I do take it to court, will he get half of my pension? It’s pretty small having worked part-time whilst bringing the kids up, and won’t even cover my own retirement. He opted out of his pension years ago but stands to inherit a hefty sum from his parents. I don’t have any family left.

Thank you!

Comments

  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,307
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    Sorry that this has happened.  I won't voice my opinion about him.

    If his name is on the mortgage he's responsible for that.  If your name is also on the mortgage then it's likely to be an either/or as far as the bank is concerned.  Make sure you check which is what.

    If you have an account that is in your name that is being used to pay his phone/whatever then stop the payments.  Unlikely you'll get the money back so stop it asap.  

    I would suggest getting an estate agent in to value the house (but don't sign anything) so you have a baseline for what he might be entitled to.  (potentially 50/50).

    Was the account he withdrew money from one that you paid in to?  In which case I think you are entitled to ask for your share back.  If you have any other accounts that you pay in to that are joint do make sure that you change you pay etc into an account that you (& not him) have access to.   

    Have a look around the house for any paperwork regarding the state of his finances.  Pensions?  Payslips?  These are all good things to keep to provide a record of what was normal for you.  Also you are entitled to a split of his pension - and he to yours of course but if he's earning more then he'll owe you.  This might be resolved by giving you a better than 50% of the value of the house but the solicitors can help sort that.  

    Take a look at your credit history.  Is there anything on there that you are concerned about that might actually be his debt.  Some people take a credit card or loan out in their partner's name - just to be sure have a look in case there's a bit of fraud going on.  

    I won't suggest you withdraw money from any joint accounts that might take them into an overdraft.  That would not be cricket.  But do contact any banks where you have joint accounts and let them know that you don't want to be responsible for any further transactions and need your name off the account.  It's not always easy as you've both signed up to the account but informing them (and keeping a record of date/time/person talked to) will be helpful if he decides to build up debts that potentially you would otherwise be responsible for.  

    Wishing you the best of luck.  Give him a kick in the whatevers should you get a chance!!!
    "Never retract, never explain, never apologise; get things done and let them howl.”
  • RAS
    RAS Posts: 32,462
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    If you have any joint accounts, remove half and then instruct the bank that all further spends need approval from both parties.

    Read the meters, and check against the current bills. Can you afford to continue paying the bills to stay in the house? Could you rejig the layout to allow you to take a lodger?

    I'd suggest your student talks to student welfare as it may be possible for their loan situation to be reviewed due to the massive drop in income. And if they don't have a part-time job, they need to start looking.

    Definitely use the time to collect anything relating to the financial situation immediately before he departed. You need proof if he's squirreling, selling assets diverting "assets of the marriage" into personal accounts. 

    Also check out wikidivorce.

    I wouldn't rush into divorce if you can afford to stay in the house. For a starter, why should you pay the fee? Secondly, the financial settlement could be a long and arduous task and it's not going to give you better than the status quo.

    And interest rates are calming, might even drop, so you'd be better all round taking your time. Start decluttering, think about the pets (can you afford the vet bills?) and try and improve your income situation.
    The person who has not made a mistake, has made nothing
  • The short practical answer is yes he can pretty much walk away on most things and even the things he can't walk away on might not be easy. 

    First of all he no longer has any financial obligation to you, to find your lifestyle or support you. He does have an obligation to his kids though so if he's not paying for them CMS would be the first stop. 

    With regards the house, if his name is on the mortgage then he is liable to the bank for the debt however that doesn't mean he has to make the payments or half the payments or anything like that. There's no way to force him to do that. It really just depends if he's willing to play chicken with you not making the payments and the bank repossessing the house. 

    With regards your household bills those are now your responsibility. He doesn't live there. 

    With regards bills in his name for his personal phone or whatever then that would be different. You should probably stop those payments coming out of any joint account if he's not paying in. 

    In the longer term a financial settlement would start with a presumption of a fifty fifty split of all assets including your pension but would quite probably be adjusted to account for different needs. 

    There is no best practice to simply keep things going until a divorce is finalised. If he's being funny about money then the best thing to do is get the process started to get a financial settlement started. It'll probably take two years anyway. 

    In the meantime try citizens advice etc and see what they might be able to suggest but the harsh reality is that you're largely on your own financially now 
  • Milo31 said:
    Hi, I know the answers will be here somewhere but I'm struggling to find them and could really use some advice. Really sorry for the long post!

    My husband and I separated in July after 30 years of marriage, after he was caught out having an affair. I’m not ashamed to say it’s been utterly devastating and I didn’t see it coming even for a second. He was asked to move out to his parents while things were processed as such but he chose to move straight in with the other woman, and he’s been there ever since.

    Things have been reasonably amicable (I’ve tried reallllly hard not to hate him). He was paying towards the household bills until a few weeks back when he stopped the direct debit and withdrew all the money from his account without any warning. I only found out when I got a bank text saying the bill’s account was overdrawn. He has now said he can’t afford to pay for two properties and that I should take him to court. 

    He was living rent free with ‘her’ until recently but he suggested she’d now asked him to pay rent. We’ve since discovered he’s actually gone and got a new place with her so will, I assume, be jointly liable for that place. He didn’t tell us about the change of address and I have no idea where he’s living. He’s being really difficult about even discussing money and has completely left me in the lurch money-wise. He’s not even transferring the money for things that are paid out of the joint account like his own insurances, phone bills etc.

    We jointly own our home outright and have  2 adult kids (23 and 19) living here. The eldest is saving madly for his own house deposit and the youngest is at uni. We also have a number of pets. We can’t sell the house yet as I can’t afford to buy a house big enough for all of us so we’re waiting for my eldest to move out. Also, there’s stuff that needs to be done to the house to make it saleable.

    After probably way too much info, my question is can he just walk away financially? I’ve obvs googled it and believe ‘best practice’ is that both parties carry on as normal until a divorce settlement is reached but is that actually a legal obligation and if he’s not willing to do that, do I have options to pursue it legally? He earns a lot more than me although he is self-employed, and is also selling off assets and keeping the cash.

    I’m not trying to be unfair, I know he’s got to live too although I’m a bit mad that he’s over-committed himself financially with a new house when he didn’t need to. We now can’t afford to do the things to our house that need to be done to sell it and I am financially up !!!!!! creek without a paddle and absolutely no-one to rely on!

    Also, one other question (sorry), if I do take it to court, will he get half of my pension? It’s pretty small having worked part-time whilst bringing the kids up, and won’t even cover my own retirement. He opted out of his pension years ago but stands to inherit a hefty sum from his parents. I don’t have any family left.

    Thank you!
    There’s no mortgage so why would he continue to pay towards the household bills, except maybe home insurance, when he’s not using the utilities or an occupant of the property as far as the council tax is concerned.  If you still have access to the joint account cancel all the direct debits for his things e.g. his mobile phone as you should not be footing the bill for those. 

    If your salary is being paid into the joint account set up your own account and have all your income paid into there.  If there are any joint savings accounts you may miss to consider withdrawing half the balance now or getting the bank to freeze the accounts. 

    Even once the divorce is finalised I don’t think you can force him to contribute towards doing the house up to sell it. I’d be very surprised if the house was unsellable in its current state. 
  • Gavin83
    Gavin83 Posts: 8,728
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    In terms of how to handle the bank accounts I think you'd had some good advice here so far so I won't add to it. For the other financials not so much and I think some people have missed key pieces of info in your post.

    He has no legal responsibility to fund your lifestyle nor the bills going forward. He no longer lives in the house and therefore the majority of the bills are no longer down to him to pay. Of course there's nothing stopping him agreeing to do so but it appears he's unwilling to and I don't see a way you can force him. Bills for his own personal items is his responsibility. He would arguably be responsible for half the mortgage were there one, but there isn't so this is a moot point.

    Someone mentioned CMS and how he has a financial responsibility towards the children but given their ages this isn't the case. They're considered adults from this perspective and therefore capable of looking after themselves financially.

    Unless there's mitigating circumstances the split of the assets is likely to be 50/50, or very close to it. This will include everything, including pensions. You don't state who has the better pension but hint at it being you. If that is the case then it puts you in a weaker position but you could appeal to him to leave pensions out of it but there's no obligation for him to agree to this.

    Potential future inheritances won't be considered as part of the financial split because there's no guarantee he'll receive it. I can attest to this being a major beneficiary of a will where I would have received around £200k but now I'm likely to receive nothing due to care costs. Even received inheritances are sometimes ignored.

    Ultimately the house will need to be sold. The children are beyond an age where their needs will be considered so there isn't a legal way to delay it until the eldest has moved out. Pets won't be considered at all and my advice would be to leave the renovations, you probably won't recover the money. However the divorce process won't be quick so there's certainly no rush to move or sell up. The caveat to this is whether you can afford to remain living in the property by yourself, if you can't then it might be better to sell up sooner. You can look to get a lodger like someone else suggested but bare in mind your ex-husband will be entitled to 50% of the income.

    Good luck with the resolution. I hope it works out for you.
  • Gavin83 said:
    In terms of how to handle the bank accounts I think you'd had some good advice here so far so I won't add to it. For the other financials not so much and I think some people have missed key pieces of info in your post.

    He has no legal responsibility to fund your lifestyle nor the bills going forward. He no longer lives in the house and therefore the majority of the bills are no longer down to him to pay. Of course there's nothing stopping him agreeing to do so but it appears he's unwilling to and I don't see a way you can force him. Bills for his own personal items is his responsibility. He would arguably be responsible for half the mortgage were there one, but there isn't so this is a moot point.

    Someone mentioned CMS and how he has a financial responsibility towards the children but given their ages this isn't the case. They're considered adults from this perspective and therefore capable of looking after themselves financially.

    Unless there's mitigating circumstances the split of the assets is likely to be 50/50, or very close to it. This will include everything, including pensions. You don't state who has the better pension but hint at it being you. If that is the case then it puts you in a weaker position but you could appeal to him to leave pensions out of it but there's no obligation for him to agree to this.

    Potential future inheritances won't be considered as part of the financial split because there's no guarantee he'll receive it. I can attest to this being a major beneficiary of a will where I would have received around £200k but now I'm likely to receive nothing due to care costs. Even received inheritances are sometimes ignored.

    Ultimately the house will need to be sold. The children are beyond an age where their needs will be considered so there isn't a legal way to delay it until the eldest has moved out. Pets won't be considered at all and my advice would be to leave the renovations, you probably won't recover the money. However the divorce process won't be quick so there's certainly no rush to move or sell up. The caveat to this is whether you can afford to remain living in the property by yourself, if you can't then it might be better to sell up sooner. You can look to get a lodger like someone else suggested but bare in mind your ex-husband will be entitled to 50% of the income.

    Good luck with the resolution. I hope it works out for you.
    Yes you're right I'd missed the ages of the kids. I'd also missed that the house was paid off so no mortgage involved.

    I also agree that it's unlikely the house is unsellable in its current state and actually needs renovations. Unlikely a court would make an order to get someone to contribute to house renovations I would think. 

    With regards a lodger, while ex might technically be entitled to a share of the income just like everything else it would just become another point of contention in the financial settlement. I certainly wouldn't be handing over any money to them without a court order to the effect. If it makes the difference for now in being able to afford to live then it's worth considering. What someone is entitled to and what they actually get can be different things in a divorce situation. 


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