I am 66; my wife (from overseas) is 44; she obtained a “Decree Nisi” against me last November. We are still living in the same house, though with very little communication, and there are three children, aged 15, 12 and 7. She is trying to get me to leave the house.
We underwent mediation in January to March, but after three sessions my wife said that she did not want to continue and wanted to press for court action.
Shortly after the mediation ceased, I received a letter from her solicitor, with a proposal which I found totally unacceptable (that she should pay me £12,000 – with a possibility of a further £43,000 in 2022 - and that I should move out – please note that the house was purchased in 2006 from the proceeds from the sale of a smaller house which had been wholly owned by me, plus a mortgage for £60,000 taken out on my then salary); I after some thought wrote back to her solicitor explaining at length why I did not find the offer acceptable and proposing that either matters should continue as at present – which is not ideal I know but neither is anything and at least I am with the children, in whom I have invested a vast amount of time, finance, love and guidance over their lifetimes, or alternatively that she should move out and live with her boy-friend (who is, in short, the cause of the rift between us) and leave the children here with me. Her solicitor sent her a copy of my letter; she did nothing for over a month, and then the solicitor sent her a reminder (and at the same time sent a letter from me saying that her “offer” still stands and asking whether I had a solicitor myself).
At that point, my wife went to see her solicitor again; I have not received any further correspondence, but I know that she received a letter from the solicitor a week after the interview, telling her that she (the solicitor) had not yet received a “form L17” – which I understand is a form to be completed by an employer in connection with an application for legal aid – and that she might need a further letter from the mediator.
It seems to me that the solicitor is trying to push my wife towards court action – or to frighten me into accepting some ridiculous offer by threatening court action? – and is starting to make an application for court funding?
What I really want to know is, what course are matters now likely to take, and how urgent is the need for me to do something myself (or instruct a solicitor to do something)? Is there any possibility that I might suddenly find myself faced with a court hearing without having had time to prepare fully for it? What I am trying to do is to play for time – delay matters, hoping that my wife, who is unbusinesslike and does not have any head for figures and little understanding of form-filling, might find it is all too much and just give up.
I think that if your wife has stated that she no longer wishes to continue with mediation that you have little choice than to go the court route.
Under the circumstance in your situation I would start the formal proceedures. Your wife has a Decree Nisi what was the basis of the Petition which I assume was her starting the petition and what was your response?
There is little to be gained from you putting your head in the sand as the longer this drags on the longer you are married. I do feel for you regarding your children and think you have done the right thing in refusing to move out and wanting to stay put with your children.
A concern might be that she starts putting in allegations regarding your conduct so it is important to keep your letters in order to submit them to court.
Thanks for your help. The basis of her Petition was "unreasonble behaviour" - she made out that I hadn''t been loving enough to her, I talked about her to friends, and a few other molehills which she made into mountains - it was what I would describe as an extreme case of "familiarity breeding contempt".
Well the basis of her Petition was not that you were violent or harrassing so on that basis I do not think that at present you have anything too much to worry about regarding any allegation.
I think you should start formal Ancillary Relief proceedings. The letters (which I would basically see as contentious and threatening to you) are admissible in court at the point they are not concerned with mediation (you cannot submit any negotiations that are made during mediation as this prejudices your case).
You can start ancillary relief without a solicitor and there is advise on this forum about the forms and the process.
If you have an idea of what you want as settlement then you can submit your proposal at this point either as a without prejudice offer or as an open offer with a closing date.
If you want to submit a new offer then you can state on your offer that the new open offer (which should have a closing date) replaces all other open offers.
An open offer is an offer which either does not state without prejudice or states that it is an open offer.
Technicaly also an offer which states it is without prejudice which is very obviously false is allowed to be put to court by you (but beware this is risky) as in the same way that a murderer cannot protect themselves against prosecution simply by putting a "without prejudice" sticker on a murder weapon you cannot put very prejudiced offers to a person and mark them without prejudice believing that you gain privilege in that way.
Have you worked out what the difference is in your positions ie what she wants and what you are prepared to settle for? It may be that the gap between you is less than the cost of using solicitors and/or going to court.
I have no doubt that her solicitor is trying to grab as much of the family pot for your wife as he can. This is what solicitors see as acting in their client''s best interest and, by engineering a legal fight, enhance their income. Not all solicitors do this but I have seen some appalling letters that are an utter disgrace to the profession.
If you are still living in the same house, I assume you communicate to some degree. If so, do try to persuade your wife to continue with mediation, even if you have to change mediators.
Point out to her that, if her solicitor is saying that she can get the lion''s share of the pot, your solicitor will probably say that you can get an equally large share and they can''t both be right. There will be only one winner in a legal fight, and it won''t be either of you.