I am presently going through a torturous divorce from a narcissistic husband. We have been under the same roof during lockdown and he has been inflicting all kinds of emotional and financial sabotage. The divorce has been going on for over 2 years.
But we have our FDR on 15th December. I didn't realise that we had to book barristers so far in advance. I have a solicitor but I have been really frustrated with how they approach things. My husband has messed around with all the financial disclosure. I feel he is hiding things but my lawyers are not pushing hard enough. Does anyone have any advice on that.
Also does anyone have any advice on a good barrister for the FDR. I have a few options on who is available but I'm so worried I'll pick the wrong one. They are not cheap!!!!
Also I'm trying to get advice on the financial outcome. I didn't realise that the financial outcome is pretty much set in law. Is this correct. We have 3 fairly decent properties. Two are rental and the equity is approx the same as the equity in the family home. I have wanted to stay in the marital home for a lot of reasons, but he is blocking this quite scarily. I have fought so long with the legal process in the hope I can keep the marital home and he take the other 2 properties, but I now fear that this might never be possible. I fear the courts will force us to sell everything which is going to put me in a much worse situation than him.
He earns a lot more than me (approx £150k), and he has a scare in a very profitable business and has been investing in bitcoin. But his form E says he earns (£30k). He has also put my credit rating and mortgage capacity quite low due to him constantly letting the mortgage go into arrears. Over the years he has also dominated the finances and prevented me from creating a pension. The buy to lets were going to be our pension but of course these will now go. So I am worried about my financial future. I am working on my own business plans but fighting this divorce and the costs involved are preventing me from growing my plans as much as I would like.
So basically I would like advice on
1. Recommendations for a winning barrister - does it make a huge amount of difference whether I use my solicitor to work with the barrister or whether I go direct access.
2. Is there a chance I could get the financial outcome I want. Does the barrister make this happen in court or is it pretty much decided before court.
3. What to do for the best in proving his financial situation - I think I would like another court order to force him to reveal more information - how do I make this happen.
It is really important to understand the process and likely outcomes whether you have a solicitor or not. I remember feeling very frustrated and pretty much excluded from things by my solicitor - and it cost a fortune to get pretty much what I had suggested was fair at the outset.
If there are holes in his disclosure they need to be closed as far as possible. The court needs evidence and a compelling argument. Your questionnaire should have been aimed at achieving clarity. If questions have not been properly answered, a Schedule of Deficiencies will need to be raised. If necessary you would need an application to court to compel full disclosure.
It may be that FDR - at which negotiations take place and agreement may be reached —cannot be fruitful. If no agreement is reached there will be a final hearing at which you will both be cross examined. The judge will make the decision based on a:the law b:the evidence and c: which party they believe.
The settlement itself will be based on needs first. This is needs for housing and income now and in the future. If you want to keep the FMH you need to present good reasons for doing so. This could be e. g. proximity to schools if there are children to consider. The cost and affordability of suitable alternative housing will be a factor as will your respective incomes.
In terms of which barrister you choose, you really need someone who will give you a fair picture of things and advise you what evidence you need to provide and present to help your case. They should be realistic about what you are seeking but at the same time do their best to achieve a settlement that works for you. I would always prefer someone I can talk directly to well ahead of the hearing.
At FDR the judge should have read the bundle ahead of the hearing and will have formed a view on settlement and the offers that have been put forward. The evidence at this stage is more of a balance sheet of assets and needs. Your barrister may have prepared the schedule and will have produced a note setting out your position. This should be in the bundle. You may well be given a very clear steer by the judge and urged to settle by negotiation on the day.
If you do go to Final Hearing you will be able to provide a narrative statement (aka s25 statement) that sets out your position in much greater detail. This is the plank of your case.
Not everyone can be an effective LIP. Some have no choice. You need to understand and work with the process. A good direct access barrister can be a huge asset and being LIP with a DA barrister is a LOT cheaper than being fully represented. If you need support, we have services designed to help LIPs navigate the court process and we work with DA barristers. Have a look at the services tab.