In a pickle - can't seem to think my way out of this one and would appreciate any advice or suggestions.
Current circumstances are that self and STBX co-own a small hotel, which is also home for our 3 children (15, 12 and 8). Hotel is very busy in summer - ironically, we do about 35 weddings a year. Oct, Nov, Jan and Feb are generally dead, so very reliant on summer revenues to subsidise winter. Separated in January, 15 yrs married, together 22. STBX is driving separation and presented a fait accomplis, no discussion, reconciliation etc. Nobody else involved - STBX hit 40 this year and has decided over last 18 months that she no longer loves me or wants to be with me. Started mediation in July. Attended three sessions, and still are no nearer any kind of agreement about anything - matrimonial, childcare or financial. STBX will not talk to me about short, medium or long term issues until I move out. Has afforded me about 12 hours discussion on situation (including 2 at relate and 3 at mediation) since last January.
Business had dreadful year last year (April - March) and lost a great deal of money. I took a contract job in IT (my background) last year which pays very well. 80% of what I earned last year went into subsidising the hotel, further 10% on family holiday.
STBX doesn't understand hotel finances and thinks I made up the loss, or somehow amplified it. No, it really did lose over £50K. All our lifesavings are in the business, so that is the pot that we have to split. If we got what the business transfer agents estimated, it would equate to about £220K to split, which would not be enough for either of us to buy a house with - damned fine deposit, but just that.
Business had 2 good years, followed by 1 really bad year - terrible time to sell - be lucky if we came out with what we went in with - after 4 years of very hard slog. This year so far has been a very good year, but we need to control costs very carefully through quieter months to show a decent set of accounts. My plan is to put it on the market as soon as we can get a set of decent accounts together for current trading year (April 08). Then we would probably have to see through another wedding season (May - Sept) before a sale is agreed. Not ideal, but it is the only way we are going to make back some of the losses and get the selling price up. I am desperately trying to look after both our future finances.
STBX has been talking to a 'property developer' - chancer in anyone else's parlance. She thinks he is going to pay over the odds to buy hotel and convert it into apartments. He made an approach to us earlier in the year and it unsurprisingly came to nothing. The people that we bought the hotel off had already trid to do that, but local authority knocked them back on planning. He has heard that we have split and has approached me again last week - My answer is a firm no. Since found out he has approached STBX whilst she was abroad on holiday last week. Suspect that she has had more than one conversation with him.
Since separation, STBX has become increasingly 'unavailable' when people call to speak with her, and she is never at the helm if I call during the day. She has taken to wearing diamante studded jeans when dealing with guests and customers. Basically, she is letting things slide. We employ staff that do b*gger all for most of their shifts, because she won't put any effort into attracting new business. I am only around in the evenings and at weekends, so have little influence on midweek activities.
Up to January, we have always had complete trust with each other as far as money is concerned. Accounting has always been an annual chore and noting cash receipts has never been a priority. We take a lot of cash receipts for things like deposits, or black tie dinners.
Our kids have a very free reign, which is something else I have a huge problem with. They pretty well get whatever they want whenever they want it. She doesn't see any issue in them using the public areas (bar, restaurant, beer garden) as an extension of their family home. They have two private lounges and each has their own bedroom - more than dad has right now! I frequently have to remind the elder two that they should not be in the bar in their PJs at 10pm, chatting with the locals, who have had a few. Our 15yo is in his GCSE year. Spends from 4pm to 11pm glued to sky sports news and MSN. Doesn't lift a finger to help anyone but himself. Teachers say he is more than capable of straight As, but is on course for Cs. STBX's view? He will be what he will be.
One thing that we did agree at mediation was that she should have a £500 per month 'allowance' from the hotel - her personal spending money. Hotel pays for all utilities, food, drink, kids things etc. She is spending money like water, far in excess of her allowance.
I don't feel that I can move out until we have some agreement in place about accountability, commitment to maintain the business in a professional manner, constrain the children etc
Neither do I feel comfortable about her financial behaviour - am I doing the right thing, or should I just let it all go to the wall and let her try to pick up the pieces?
I daren't give up the contract work - her spending will probably mean that I need to bail out the hotel later in the year. I'm not a liberty to take control there and work 11 hours on contract.
Is there anything binding that I can do in the way of an agreement?
Thanks for reading this far - bit of an effort I know. Everything seems so significant at the moment.
Think I replied to a similar (but not worse) post you made before.
You really are in the middle of a mine field arent you? An agreement (business partnership)would be great but I dont know how easy/difficult it would be to put in place now if communication is poor. Maybe someone here will have more of a legal bacground to give a better answer.
I can see your logic about getting a good year behind the business before you sell, but will it really be that good if you arent at the helm making it work? From what you describe your Ex2b isnt really putting the effort in. I can also see why you need the contact work. Could you go part time?
In any case I think there is no way you should move out as at least if you are there sometimes you can keep an eye on what is going on.
Children - can you not put some ground rules in place? They are your children too.
I seem to have written a lot with no actual solutions for you. I hope someone else can help and that it works out.
Umm. This is a tough one Mike. I will try and give it 5 penneth. Depends on what you want? I set priorities when all this came out for me last May. It helped me. Thing is with people when they know something is over then they stop trying. You ex2b is spending money like tomorow and that wont change. It depends if you want something out of this and can you reasonable fight and win? Thing is with money you can earn replacements. But your life is not replaceable.
Give you and example.
When I left my FMH I got 30K from a remortage. Now there is 17K which I could get if I tried hard enough. I could realy do with the money but it could take me 2 - 3 years to get and could cost me something like 3.5K in legal fees. Is it worth it? No. So I am going to let it go. My priority's are that I get out with as much as I can in a short period of time. My life is worth more.
You are contracting. Its good money I know becuase I am in IT also. So in a year you could get back on your feet and be divorced and start again.
But this is just me. I know you put a lot into that business but its just bricks and morter. I rebuilt the FMH starting early 2000. Its a palace now. But I walked out on it. I spent 5 years solid on it. She will have all of it soon and the fat coacher will take showers in the shower room that I built and put his fat arse on the toilets that I installed and so on. But do I care? No. What I have now is far better. I have my life back. Chris.
Chris / Tinny - thanks for your input. i guess as Chris says, What do I want? Truth is, I don't know. To be out of this bl**dy mess would be good. I want to be Dad to my kids, so I can't afford to be too nasty or difficult. Neither do I want to lose my shirt in the process. She needs to wake up a little and see that we both need to be committed to the hotel, if not to each other.
I am concerned that if I try to start pushing hard in any area, she will simply walk and leave me to it.
Hi Mike, have you any idea of what she actually wants or does she? It seems from reading this that she just wants to carry on as she is with no sort of plan until the money runs out. She just seems to have her head in the sand and is waiting for things to resolve themselves.
Until you can get her to think about the future you will not get anywhere.
I am thinking of writing down, my feelings and plans in a letter and giving it to my husband to read quietly and without any sniping on our parts. If he also does the same, maybe we can come to a better understanding of how each of us are feeling.
Everytime we try to verbalise our feelings we just get cross and snipe at each other and its like banging our heads on the same brick wall over and over again.
Haven't tried it yet - but maybe it could work with you two?
Anything is better than the status quo we are currently enduring. I have asked her almost every day for the last six months to make time to talk about the issues that need to be resolved - maybe your idea could help? Like self-help mediation, without the referee! Thanks for taking the time Fio - appreciate it - Need to do something!
Hi Mike. Yes you do need to do something. But dont think that you can walk the tightrope and still keep your kids. It dont work mate. They will be gone or not despite what you do. But do the right thing. Moraly right that is. She may have the knives out for you already and if she has then no matter what you do they are gone.
Its a hard thing to face but I have seen it so many times. Its the blame game. Chris.