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TOPIC: Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated

Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56832

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Hi,

I’m just looking for some advice. My wife is leaving me, as things stand I’m hopeful that we can sort things out amicably, we have both said we have no reason to get divorced for the foreseeable future and we can just remain separated. I just want to make sure I set myself up right at the beginning to limit the damage. As my brother has been through a very messy divorce, and although he’s ‘won’ in the end, he’s ended up virtually broke and he and the children have been through a lot of unnecessary stress.
We have two girls aged 4 and 6, I’m the primary earner, as my wife was only on a low income it made sense for her to go part time when we had the children as it had a much smaller impact financially than if I had done.

Firstly, the house.
I’m staying in the house, my wife is moving out and renting somewhere, we have agreed that we both have the children 50% of the time (I have this agreement on email). There is no way she could have ever been approved to maintain the mortgage on the family home on her single income, which is why she is moving. Plus the fact that my parents lent us a chunk for the deposit, and I’ve paid the mortgage and every single bill thats ever come into the house, including my wifes mobile phone bill (This has been the case with rents and bills ever since we lived together).
She’s said (again on email) that she doesn’t want anything in terms of money from the house, that it’s rightly my house and I deserve to keep it.
I suspect that despite the fact she has said this, and that every single penny that has ever gone into the house has come from me and my family, the fact the house is jointly owned and the mortgage is in both our names then she is entitled to 50% of any equity that is in the property?
My question then is am I right in assuming she is entitled to 50% and can she force me to sell or to take out a loan to pay her off? Or will she have to wait until I eventually choose to sell at some point in the future. Also where do I stand in terms of contents, many household items are too bulky to move and she’s said it’s easier for her to buy new and get delivered to her new home. Do I have a financial obligation here?
We both said that we didn’t want solicitors involved in the separation as it would only aggravate things and we wanted things to remain as friendly as possible for the girls and for ourselves. However I do happen to know that despite saying she wants no money she has been seeking legal advice on this subject from a no win no fee divorce lawyer.
I was planning on getting a couple of valuations done on the house in it’s current state as soon as she leaves, so that I have an accurate valuation if she ever does try to claim. Would this suffice? Is there anything else I need to do to best protect myself?

Secondly, Child benefits.

My brother having been through a painful divorce himself sent me this link that he’d found, and whilst I’ve no plans to be so extreme and hire private detectives etc there were a few things that raised an eyebrow with me, mainly with regard to Child benefit.
www.coeffic.demon.co.uk/advice_divorce_csa.htm
The child benefit was always a joint application but the money was paid into my bank, but when it was agreed that she was going to leave she told me that she’d spoken to the taxcredits/benefits people who told her she wasn’t entitled to anything financially until she got the child benefits in her name.
So I let her submit her own application so that she could get some financial assistance, and only for that reason, I have no intention of seeing my kids any less than 50% of the time.
Having read the above article though I’m beginning to think I may have made a major mistake.

Thirdly, child maintenance.
Using the CSA calculator, having the kids a minimum of 3 nights a week means that I have to pay £50 per week. I begrudge this as a 50:50 split in residence should mean that we both contribute financially 50:50 too. Especially as I’m the one thats always paid nursery fees, paid into trust funds etc. However I guess if they are the rules then I don’t have a lot of choice.
Does debt get taken into account when calculating maintenance payments? I can’t find any detail online.
We had nearly £30k of debt that my parents bailed me out of, I lost significantly trying to trade margin on the stock market, but I would say at least £10k of the debt was hers that I took on as a loving husband paying off various catalogues that she’d managed to build up.
I now owe my parents, but I could probably get a loan to pay them off with if that would change the situation?
Are there any other factors that I need to consider that could mean I end up paying less or more in terms of child maintenance.

Fourthly, Pensions and trust funds.
My employers operate a fairly generous pension scheme that pays in 2% more than the employee contribution. So for the last 7 years I have been paying in 5% of my salary, and my employers 7%. I’ve reduced this recently to 3% due to my debt problems.
I was surprised to read online that she has rights to my pension, Is this correct?
I’ve always encouraged her to open her own private pension or get her employers to open a scheme, but she has never bothered. Whether she was intending to rely on my pension, a state pension, or more likely hasn’t considered financially anything beyond to do I’m not certain. I would be furious if in thirty years time she will have access to a portion of my pension.
We also have two child trust funds that I have paid into monthly for the last six years, we have joint names on them but hers is the controlling name as she set them up in the first place whilst on maternity. What is the situation here? again I don’t want her having a stake in them when she has never paid into them, and it will be a further 12 years of her not contributing before they are due to be cashed in.

Finally, a third party.
Although my wife has claimed that there is nobody else involved, simply that she has fallen out of love with me. I happen to have evidence (phone bills, copy bank statements etc) that suggest strongly that she is lying about this, and that there is something going on with someone who was supposed to be one of my best friends, I’ve no proof of what was said in these calls and messages or why she occasionally transfers money to him, but clearly the volume of texts and calls and the money transfers suggests this isn’t just ‘good friends’
Does her having an affair improve my rights with regard to the children and to the home and contents at all? What evidence would I need to prove an affair.


Summary
Thank you for reading, I realise there is a lot in here but hope I can get some useful advice from people that have been through all this, before I have to go and rack up expensive solicitors bills.

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Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56836

Hi mate,
My advice to you based on my own experience is to be careful and cover all bases.
My wife and I decided to split back in February after 20 years marriage. The split was always intended to be amicable and the months building up to her moving out it was. She was looking for a rental place to move to with the 3 children. As she works part time, and has done for some years due to child care etc, she is entitled to working families and tax credit. All in all, with that and her income plus what I pay in child maintenance, her financial position is pretty good.

She had asked for a settlement from the house as it was in joint names and I agreed to this. I arranged the mortgage and engaged with a solicitor as I wanted a settlement agreement in place to protect the house against any further claim in the future. We never discussed divorce and both of us were happy to wait until at least 2 years to do anything.

This was when it all started to go horribly wrong for me. She engaged with her solicitor who put ideas into her head and she listened and took his advice. She wanted more money out of the house and 60% of my pension. I couldn't get a larger mortgage and by the time we messed around with exchanges of letters, I had lost my original mortgage offer. It cost me £6k in legal fees to basically get nowhere. It all went on a credit card and now the bank have refused a further mortgage application because I am classed as high risk with this debt plus there are other debts in my name occured during the marriage.

My parents loaned us £20k 3 years ago to have an extension built on the house. It was always intended that once the work was completed and our financial position was more stable, we would remortgage to pay them back. In addition, they paid off a load if debt back in February to support my mortgage application at that time. So I owe them £30k for which I have no way of being able to pay them back now.

I have asked my wife via her solicitor to contribute towards the mortgage and other joint payments. Her solicitor has declined this on the basis that I am solely occupying the property.
As it stands now, she is threatening court action to force the sale of the property. I have tried to explain that in the absence of a building control certificate, it would be very difficult to sell until the work is completed and any sale would be below market value.

A sensible way would be to split any equity 50/50, however if she engages with a solicitor, they will push for her to have a greater chunk of the pot as she is classed as the main carer of the children and needs to provide them with a home.

We agreed prior to her moving out what furniture she would take and that was removed from the house on the day of her moving into rented accomedation. Therefore all contents in the house are mine but there is no agreement/inventory signed by either party.

With regards to child maintenance - I am being stung every month even on the basis I have my kids 3 nights every week. If it was dealt with my CMS, I would have to pay even more as it is based on your gross income after pension deduction. My fear is that she will open up a case to maximise the payment as I cannot provide her with a cash settlement from the house at this time.

I am also convinced that my wife is involved with a 3rd party - her behaviour, random trips out, excessive texting, phone on silent in her pocket, hidden away overnight etc. I cannot prove anything but even if I did, all that would mean is that you can file for divorce on the grounds of adultery. It is a reason to divorce and I wouldn't imagine that things would work more in your favour financially etc.

It sounds very much like your situation duplicates mine on several aspects. I will send you a private message with my email address and happy to share more information about where I am in the process that you might find useful.

Keep your chin up mate

Cheers

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Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56837

Hi AnDad,

Welcome to DAD.info. I am sorry to hear that you are going through separation at the moment.

It sounds as if you are going through a tough time at the moment - I would imagine that with so many unknowns you a feeling a little apprehensive regarding what is going to happen. We can give you some advice regarding maintenance and child law.

My understanding of the divorce process is limited (but maybe some other members who have gone through a similar situation can help). But I believe (I could be wrong) that your wife could be entitled to a percentage of the property and other assets.

I would advise you to get some legal advice regarding what to expect during the divorce process - you can have an initial consultation for very little money (some law firms offer a free initial meeting) and you may be able to get the answers to how you could expect the assets to be split.

Here is a handy calculator that may help indicate how much your wife is entitled to

Even if you don't want lawyers involved all the way through the process it may be worth getting some initial advice.

Child Maintenance is based on earnings only - so debts will not be taken into account. Here is a calculator for the new Child Maintenance Service which will give you an idea of how much you should be paying. You can agree maintenance privately without involving the CMS. I would advise that you take a look at Splitting Up Put Kids First which will help enable the two of you to agree a shared parenting plan. A parenting plan is a private agreement (not legally binding) between the two of you that can cover everything from access to child maintenance. After you have agreed how much to pay regarding maintenance then make sure you pay it in such a way that you are able to prove the payments have been made (we would suggest via a standing order etc)

What evidence would I need to prove an affair.


I guess the big question is do you really want to go down this road. Would you have less chance of an amicable separation if you wanted to try to prove that your wife was having an affair? Is it worth the potential of the animosity that this might cause between you - only you can answer this.

I hope some of this is of help to you.

Keep talking

Gooner

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Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56838

AnDad wrote: Firstly, the house.
I’m staying in the house, my wife is moving out and renting somewhere, we have agreed that we both have the children 50% of the time (I have this agreement on email). There is no way she could have ever been approved to maintain the mortgage on the family home on her single income, which is why she is moving. Plus the fact that my parents lent us a chunk for the deposit, and I’ve paid the mortgage and every single bill thats ever come into the house, including my wifes mobile phone bill (This has been the case with rents and bills ever since we lived together).
She’s said (again on email) that she doesn’t want anything in terms of money from the house, that it’s rightly my house and I deserve to keep it.
I suspect that despite the fact she has said this, and that every single penny that has ever gone into the house has come from me and my family, the fact the house is jointly owned and the mortgage is in both our names then she is entitled to 50% of any equity that is in the property?
My question then is am I right in assuming she is entitled to 50% and can she force me to sell or to take out a loan to pay her off? Or will she have to wait until I eventually choose to sell at some point in the future. Also where do I stand in terms of contents, many household items are too bulky to move and she’s said it’s easier for her to buy new and get delivered to her new home. Do I have a financial obligation here?
We both said that we didn’t want solicitors involved in the separation as it would only aggravate things and we wanted things to remain as friendly as possible for the girls and for ourselves. However I do happen to know that despite saying she wants no money she has been seeking legal advice on this subject from a no win no fee divorce lawyer.
I was planning on getting a couple of valuations done on the house in it’s current state as soon as she leaves, so that I have an accurate valuation if she ever does try to claim. Would this suffice? Is there anything else I need to do to best protect myself?


Your wife is entitled to a share of the equity in the house, the way it is looked at it that although you have paid all the bills she worked less hours to be able to look after the children so that was her contribution to things. Getting the valuations would ne good as you would be one step ahead should there be a claim made.

AnDad wrote: Secondly, Child benefits.

My brother having been through a painful divorce himself sent me this link that he’d found, and whilst I’ve no plans to be so extreme and hire private detectives etc there were a few things that raised an eyebrow with me, mainly with regard to Child benefit.
www.coeffic.demon.co.uk/advice_divorce_csa.htm
The child benefit was always a joint application but the money was paid into my bank, but when it was agreed that she was going to leave she told me that she’d spoken to the taxcredits/benefits people who told her she wasn’t entitled to anything financially until she got the child benefits in her name.
So I let her submit her own application so that she could get some financial assistance, and only for that reason, I have no intention of seeing my kids any less than 50% of the time.
Having read the above article though I’m beginning to think I may have made a major mistake.


The CMS/CSA payments will get paid to whoever claims the child benifits, I can see why you have allowed her to set this up in her name as it means she can claim benifits to be able to live. My advice is to give what you can and that way it will hopefully stay out of the solicitors office.

AnDad wrote: Thirdly, child maintenance.
Using the CSA calculator, having the kids a minimum of 3 nights a week means that I have to pay £50 per week. I begrudge this as a 50:50 split in residence should mean that we both contribute financially 50:50 too. Especially as I’m the one thats always paid nursery fees, paid into trust funds etc. However I guess if they are the rules then I don’t have a lot of choice.
Does debt get taken into account when calculating maintenance payments? I can’t find any detail online.
We had nearly £30k of debt that my parents bailed me out of, I lost significantly trying to trade margin on the stock market, but I would say at least £10k of the debt was hers that I took on as a loving husband paying off various catalogues that she’d managed to build up.
I now owe my parents, but I could probably get a loan to pay them off with if that would change the situation?
Are there any other factors that I need to consider that could mean I end up paying less or more in terms of child maintenance.


Have you looked at CMS calculator, all new cases are now handled by CMS and not CSA if I remember rightly if you have 50/50 shared care of the children you don't pay at all, but look into this as I may be wrong.

AnDad wrote: Fourthly, Pensions and trust funds.
My employers operate a fairly generous pension scheme that pays in 2% more than the employee contribution. So for the last 7 years I have been paying in 5% of my salary, and my employers 7%. I’ve reduced this recently to 3% due to my debt problems.
I was surprised to read online that she has rights to my pension, Is this correct?
I’ve always encouraged her to open her own private pension or get her employers to open a scheme, but she has never bothered. Whether she was intending to rely on my pension, a state pension, or more likely hasn’t considered financially anything beyond to do I’m not certain. I would be furious if in thirty years time she will have access to a portion of my pension.
We also have two child trust funds that I have paid into monthly for the last six years, we have joint names on them but hers is the controlling name as she set them up in the first place whilst on maternity. What is the situation here? again I don’t want her having a stake in them when she has never paid into them, and it will be a further 12 years of her not contributing before they are due to be cashed in.


she will be entitled to a share of your pension as you were married, Again I would try and be as amicable as possible so she doesn't seek too much legale advice which would lead her into trying to claim it from you.

AnDad wrote: Finally, a third party.
Although my wife has claimed that there is nobody else involved, simply that she has fallen out of love with me. I happen to have evidence (phone bills, copy bank statements etc) that suggest strongly that she is lying about this, and that there is something going on with someone who was supposed to be one of my best friends, I’ve no proof of what was said in these calls and messages or why she occasionally transfers money to him, but clearly the volume of texts and calls and the money transfers suggests this isn’t just ‘good friends’
Does her having an affair improve my rights with regard to the children and to the home and contents at all? What evidence would I need to prove an affair.


I'm pretty sure that the reasons for the seperation don't get taken into account when looking at finances or children, so I wouldn't worry too much about trying to prove that this is or isn't going on,, save your energy for your children and your own well being.


The biggest thing that you will need to do is try and keep things as amicable as you can, too often things can get out of hand where children and finances are involved, and very quickly can lead to legal battles that end up costing £1000's.

My brother went through this last year, he had no mortgage on his hime, lots of investments and a couple of very good pensions, he was very lucky that his ex didn't go through solicitors and they managed to work things out between them with some advice from myself and others, my brother gave a very small percentage of the of the full value of the home and then they split some of the investmenst they had. He has managed to stay in his home and keep some money in reserve for his future. niether pay the other in regards to child maintenance as they have 50/50 care, his ex claims child benifits, and although they aren't very fond of each other they are managing to be civil. I don't think they could have been if there had been a legal battle. I wen't through divorce and I did have the legal battle and I haven't been able to be civil to my ex wife every since.

I would look into different ways that may keep her from going through solicitors as you will have a lot more to lose both financially and stress wise if it takes that turn.

GTTS
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Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56849

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Thank you all for your replies, I appreciate them as there are so many things to consider and my head is all over the place at the moment. I'm struggling to sleep and I'm forcing food down myself occasionaly just to make sure I stay healthy, I have no appetite.

Having considered what you've all said I think I will have the valuations done on the house, then I will have an initial consultation with a solicitor just to see where I stand. I'll suggest seperation mediation as I'd like to draw a line in the sand and this seems a far better option than expensive solicitor battles. I don't want to have casual agreements with her now and then her coming back years down the line to claim more.

As regards the affair, I think you are all right, it's not going to help at all to expose it, but it is the affair that is really ripping me up inside. I can just about cope with her leaving me and only seeing the kids half of the time, but the thought of her being with someone who was supposed to be a good friend brings me to tears daily.

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Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56851

Hi,

Mediation would be a great place to sort everything out, get it in writting so you have a firm agreement, just be mindful that mediation isn't legally binding, so actually I would suggest during mediation you discuss the divorce and get that moving, then when you file for divorce you can send the mediation agreement in as the basis for the divorce settlement. I would though offer something by way of settlement from the house in that agreement as the court would look for something to be paid, they do have the right to refuse a divorce if they feel it isn't fair. That said if it has been agreed in mediation then I would have thought they would accept what ever has been decided.

You do need to look after yourself through all of this as a main priority as you won't be any good to your children if you are too stressed or run down.

I know it must be tough to have in your mind about your friend but try as best you can to not let that rule what you do or it will eat you up inside.

Anything at all we can do in regards of advice or support just ask, even if it's just to sound off and unload, that's why we are here.

GTTS

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Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56855

As regards the affair, I think you are all right, it's not going to help at all to expose it, but it is the affair that is really ripping me up inside. I can just about cope with her leaving me and only seeing the kids half of the time, but the thought of her being with someone who was supposed to be a good friend brings me to tears daily.


I can imagine why this would play on your mind, Try not to focus on it (I know it easier said than done). You are processing and dealing with a lot at the moment adding this to your list of concerns is increasing everything your dealing with, Nothing positive can come from what you suspect has gone on.

Remember the DAD forum is here for those moments when you just want to vent as well. Feel free to pop by and share whenever you need to.

Keep talking.

Gooner
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Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56856

Hi AnDad,

Definitely a difficult situation to be in.
Having been through a divorce - and indeed one that involved adultery - be aware that sometimes it is easier to "overlook" for the sake of a more amicable proceeding.
My Ex cheated on me, but i weighed up the pro's and cons and suggested a divorce based on 2 year separation with agreement. This made it much more straight forward, and meant she wasn't interested in contesting it or arguing for more... So it basically comes down to whether proving adultery is worth all the extra flak it's likely to generate?

Regarding the house, I'd heed the advice given by the other members. She is entitled to a share of the home/it's value, but it is dependent on alot of things.
Again, the pension could be an issue too, depending on how difficult she wants to be...

The main thing I would say is - try to keep things amicable, but ensure you aren't being taken for a ride.
If it were me, I'd be looking at understanding exactly what it is she is after, and getting the ball rolling on the divorce proceedings.
Some legal/CAB advice in relation to the house/mortgage may be beneficial too.

As GTTS has said though - the most important thing is keeping yourself in decent shape, and not letting it get on top of you.

All the best,

BD.
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Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56883

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Thank you for the support, I was having a particular down day yesterday as she had just gotten the keys to her new place.
I sometimes feel like I'm getting stronger and that I can get over it, and then something like that happens and I'm back to square one. I guess Sunday will be the next hard day as the girls spend their first night away from home.
With regards to my health I'm generally in good shape, I eat healthily and run quite a lot, on the hard days I do lose my appetite but still make sure I force feed myself.

One question with regard to finance. I'm concerned given her history that she will spend on credit and get herself into a mess then come back to me for money further down the line.
We've both said that we are in no rush to get divorced, is their a way to get a legally binding financial agreeement without having to go through a divorce?
I don't want to aggravate things by pushing for a divorce so soon , but I want to be able to draw a line in the sand financially and know that what's mine is mine without any risk of further comeback years down the line.

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Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56920

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If the credit is in her name only, then there is no way it should come back on you, and realistically, if you try to get something binding in writing, you may as well just push the divorce through. Might be worth having a word with the Citizens advice bureau, or going for a quick consulation with a divorce lawyer - you can often get an initial 30 minute consultation free of charge.

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Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56935

Hi,

Glad to hear it was just a down day yesterday they sneak up on us all from time to time,

With your ex running up. Lots of credit actd is right in the fact that if the cards are in her name then she will be liable, however I'm guessing that your concerns are that she would come looking for money from the house ect to clear the debts.

As actd has said if you are looking to get the finances sorted and nailed down now then I would strongly advise going straight for the divorce so you have closure and can move on, it also give you complete closure on the finances too.

GTTS

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Initial stages of seperation - advice appreciated 5 years 3 months ago #56938

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Thanks for the advice, Ideally I'd rather avoid going down the divorce route just yet as it means having to put blame on someone which could raise tensions. If I could wait two years and proceed through seperation that would make things much easier I think.

Yes you are right my concern is that she will run up debts and then start chasing me for money from the house. She has said she doesn't want any money out of the house and that it is rightfully mine, but I suspect when she gets shown some pound signs she may change her mind, and legally she'll be entitled. I don't mind giving her a portion but I really don't think that she deserves 50%, yes her working at home has allowed me to stay as a relatively high earner, but she was only ever in a low paid job, and it isn't like she keeps on top of the house work, it's often a crap hole and there are regular piles of dirty clothes waiting to be washed.
This is why I would rather get things sorted with the house sooner rather than later. If we were to arrange a legal transfer now and come to some agreement would that be the end of it with regard to the house? Or would she still have some entitlement to any accumulation in value in say two years time when we get divorced.

I rang the mortage company yesterday to ask how difficult it would be to transfer over the ownsership, they explained it would be fairly simple just a matter of getting the relevant forms signed. However when doing an affordability check they told me what they think the house is now worth, and 50% of the equity would give her and her new boyfriend a fairly big chunck to put a deposit on their new place, this would absolutely infuriate me,

I'd like to be able to draw a line the sand with regard to finances without having to raise trauma by filing for divorce on grounds.

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