Forgive me for prattling on but I have to get this off my chest.
I am in the fortunate position (?) of being married to a wealthy man. I am his second wife and the first was left with a big house and a monthly income. Like her, I have had three children (all living at home but in their twenties). We all get on, and are like a big extended family. The eight of us all had Christmas together once (not with him - he hates Christmas).
I live in a rambling beautiful house that he has succeeded in devaluing; has made it into a large mess, with ghastly fake beams and cheap carpets. The huge garden is overgrown and I cannot possibly keep it up. He has refused to divorce me, and threatened to burn the house down if I saw a solicitor, and to kill me if I taped our conversation. Over the years he has managed to take back things he has given me, and (I can't believe how stupid I have been) he forced me to sign a document, giving up half ownership of a house on the coast. I do have full ownership of another one, so I should never be without a roof over my head, but he made me rent it out to provide housekeeping, which has been the case for the past four years or so.
Now I am living in a monstrosity of a house, whilst he has just spent thousands and thousands on the house on the coast that he shares with his gold digging lover. My daughter and son went to see it this week and she has got everything she wants; whilst in 30 years of marriage I had to wait ten years for a cheap kitchen that is falling to pieces already. She has solid oak flooring, an Aga, cream carpets - you name it. Now she is being smug and not making my family welcome. She is being rude about me to my children and my husband doesn't care; he is obsessed with her.
I know I am luckier than most but have to get out of this situation before she gets everything. He is clever and has managed to hide most of his assets. I can't afford a solicitor and don't want to fight but would do anything to stop her from getting her hands on my childrens' inheritance. We have put up with years and years of mental abuse, and sometimes physical abuse, living with this bully. Now we just want some peace and all I want is to protect my rights. I did put my name on the house deeds, and he was furious. He forced me to sign over my rights to this big house, giving me 15% in the event of us parting. Don't know why I was so stupid; have nightmares about it, but he is a real bully. Now he is pretending to the gold digger that he is a lovely man with a greedy family (not true!) He can be lovely for some of the time, but gets bored easily - like me and like his first wife - leaving hurt angry people in his wake. He will die before he gets bored with gold digger. Should I hang on? Don't know best course of action to take.
He is now renting my house on the coast from me, to put his builders in whilst they create a palace for the gold digger. Although one of my daughters has cancer, he never seemed to think that she might like to have her old holiday home back for a while. None of us can go there because golddigger has made it all her domain. The first family feel the same. Their childhood memories are there and now she is down there gloating and gloating, and inviting her friends for Christmas to see what she has got. Meanwhile, I am painting this house to make it look prettier for Christmas.
Sorry to go on - have to tell somebody. My children just nag me and moan at me for not doing anything about it sooner but it is not easy when you have a dominant bully to decide things.
Happy Christmas everyone! If you have your health, that is more important than anything else. All I really care about is getting my 26 year old through her breast cancer. That is all that really matters in the long run.
Of course you are right that getting your daughter through her breast cancer is the most important thing.
But you almost certainly have a right to a lot more of the material wealth than you think. The lawyers on here will know much better than I, but I don't think the things you signed are worth anything. You have had a long marriage and you are entitled to more or less half of the property. You may get landed with the house you are living in, but it sounds as though it would be possible to make it lovely again, maybe with some of the money from the settlement.
The really worrying thing is the threats your husband is making. He is clearly abusive - I don't know if he has ever hit you, but abuse doesn't have to include physical violence. Talk to the domestic violence unit of your local police and get some support: he has made serious threats against your life and you need that to be on record before you start divorce proceedings, so that if you do have to call the police they will take your call seriously and come quickly.
I expect that after thirty years with an abusive man you lack confidence. It is very difficult to get out of the mindset of fear that living with a bully induces, but you can do it. There are lots of support services: Women's Aid should be able to help you, for example, if only by listening with understanding.
All assets (including pensions) in yours, his and joint names minus any debts form the net value of the matrimonial 'pot' to be shared. In a long marriage where both parties housing needs are met and there is surplus capital it is shared equally. Apart from legal aid there are possibilities for loans or even advances of capital to cover legal expenses.
Fiona is correct -in a long marriage like this that will be the correct approach.
Unfortunately years of his mental abuse has made you question your position -this is just the sort of case YOU NEED a good solicitor- yes legal fees will be incurred but the extra benefit you will derive will be worth it.
The only thing I can say apart from agreeing with Sera and attila is that you should do something about this mess. But you are lucky in that you have a roof over your head whilst so many do not. Good luck. Chris.