I have been going through the joys of divorce for over 2 years now. My wife and I have completed our form E''s, attended a 4-way meeting, and produced a draft Consent Order. This was done a year ago!
Since then, changes have been made by my wife to the Consent Order, she is now without legal representation and I continue to pay legal fees.
What I wish to know is, how legally binding is a draft Consent Order? Neither party has signed and nothing has been submitted to Court. However, my solicitor states that I do have to follow, or at least show intent to, what has been written down. To that end, I currently fulfill the following: -
1. Placed the house on the market with the intent to sell. She will get circa 90% of the capital from the sale, so I have marketed the property for an inflated price. Thus why it hasn''t sold yet. I do intend to drop the price once she has signed the Consent Order and we have degree Absolute.
2. Pay £500 a month in child maintenance for my son; who lives in Scotland with his mum. My teenage daughter lives with me. My wife pays nothing towards her.
3. Pay £250 a month in spousal maintenance.
4. Paid £2,500 to assist with her removal costs.
5. Pay travel costs to facilitate both children visiting mum and dad. This includes flights to and from Inverness and meeting up in either Newcastle or Gretna. This is a 750 mile round trip for me.
My wife is putting pressure on me to sell the marital home, as she claims to be missing out on certain benefits. Housing benefit, council tax rebate etc.
I believe that legally I do not need to sell, as I have to care for a daughter in full-time education.
I have offered my wife numerous financial options, such as a buy-out plan, but she continues to push for the max!
The logical option is to go to Court, but I am concerned about the potential costs and the fact that I may actually get a worse deal than I do now!!
Consent Orders don''t usually come into effect until Absolute is granted. You are not obliged to sell the house yet since the order is not signed and sealed. I would take the house off the market, and tell your wife that it will not be sold until the consent order is stamped by the court and the absolute granted. Also stop paying spousal maintenance unless there has been a court order for maintenance pending suit.
I imagine your wife will not be very happy with that situation, so tell her that the SM will resume and the house will be put back on the market once the Consent Order is signed and the divorce is finalized. If that doesn''t get her butt moving, nothing will.
I had an email from the wife this evening stating, amongst other things, the following
"They way things are going, delays in selling the house etc is already having a negative effect on my own financial circumstances, and xxxxx will be the one to feel the immediate effect of that, including having to give up his extracurricular activities.
I reiterate, I cannot get housing benefits, or any other benefits, because I own a house. I cannot move, because I cannot afford to, and because I have no beds and no white goods. Mainly because I, in my naivety, trusted you to sell the house over last summer, so that I would then have had funds to purchase them. Quite frankly, I cannot afford to buy clothes/shoes for xxxxx, let alone for myself.
In the meantime, can you contribute towards xxxxx''s school dinners?"
Here is what I would write. In a letter, not an email.
I am not prepared to complete the house sale or contribute any more money on a voluntary basis, until the Consent Order we agreed is signed and stamped by the court, and we have been granted Decree Absolute. For that reason, I shall be taking the house off the market forthwith, and my voluntary payments of £250 per month will be stopping form next month.
If you co-operate with this process then it should take less than a month, and your finances will not be adversely affected at all. But if you choose choose to ignore or reneg on our concluded agreement, it could require a lengthy and expensive court process.
In case you have lost the draft Consent Order that we agreed to, I enclose a copy here. Looking forward to receiving it signed and dated so that we can submit it to court for approval. After that, the spousal maintenance will resume and the house will be put back on the market, priced to sell quickly.