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What are we each entitled to in our divorce settlement?

What does the law say about how to split the house, how to share pensions and other assets, and how much maintenance is payable.

What steps can we take to reach a fair agreement?

The four basic steps to reaching an agreement on divorce finances are: disclosure, getting advice, negotiating and implementing a Consent Order.

What is a Consent Order and why do we need one?

A Consent Order is a legally binding document that finalises a divorcing couple's agreement on property, pensions and other assets.


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Hello - Exasperated and worn out !

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28 Feb 08 #15299 by Exasperated
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We separated 2½yrs ago, I left my wife in our semi-detached (joint names) with our 3 children paying her child maintenance of £500/month. Last year I bought a terraced house in my sole name for £100,000 on an ‘interest only’ 5yr fixed rate mortgage which was all I could afford. I thought that if she stayed in the house for another 4yrs then when our youngest left college we could sell the house, and after paying back the £20k mortgage I would be entitled to half the equity (£90k) to pay off most of my new mortgage.

Since buying this house, my wife who hides behind her solicitor, stated that she wants all the equity on our house (£180k), she will let me keep my good company pension of 28yrs intact, child maintenance (this has never been a contentious issue) for the 3 children and also maintenance for herself until the youngest leaves college.

I rejected this stating my reasons for wanting half the house and that I would be only too happy to let her have a pension sharing order for the 21yrs we were together as she had no pension of her own. I said I didn’t have a problem with child maintenance payments (using the CSA online calculator) and that I was even willing to pay her an additional sum of half the mortgage payments on our joint home until the sale of our house. I rejected the maintenance for my wife.

She replied with exactly the same offer but dropped the spousal maintenance.

I declined this and repeated that my last offer was more than generous and was still on the table. She again rejected but said she is now willing to settle for 85% and let me have 15% of the equity but still insisting she wants nothing to do with my pension

In the last year things have changed in that our eldest has left college so am not paying maintenance for him. Our middle son (in 1st yr at college) has permanently moved in with me so not paying maintenance for him neither, therefore only paying her for £265 for the youngest who has 1yr left at senior school and 2yrs at college.

She now wants to put the house up for sale immediately while we are still negotiating, I know she can’t do anything without my permission. As I rejected her last offer of 85% - 15% I have just been issued with a date to appear in court to settle financial matters there! we have had the Decree Nisi now for well over a year.

We are both 47, I have a full time job with a decent salary of £38k whereas she chooses to work just part time for a small salary of £5k. To think that she stands to receive £153,000 where she can buy a house outright for cash and lead the life of leisure for her natural, and I receive just £27,000 and have to work for god knows how long to pay off a £73,000 mortgage just totally infuriates me! Not wanting to appear morbid but it will be another 13 - 18yrs until retirement and I may never actually reach that age at all ! hence I do not value it that highly.

What should I expect if it went to court, what would they decide??? Can they force me to keep all my pension and make me accept a reduced stake in our house??? What would I reasonably expect to come out of this situation with? I am exasperated as this has been going on forever and can’t get a straight answer out of my solicitor as he says it’s a lottery when it goes to Court and is dependant on the Judge …. great answer.

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29 Feb 08 #15429 by Fiona
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One thing you need to be aware is that you may only have relief from paying capital gains on either your new property or the FMH after three years of separation. See www.hmrc.gov.uk/helpsheets/IR281.pdf

The objective in dividing assets is to leave you both on a similar financial footing but not necessarily equally 50:50. Apart from housing the children the principle consideration here is that you can raise a larger mortgage and your wife will need a more capital to leave her in the same position.

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29 Feb 08 #15431 by Elizabeth
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Hello Exasperated and worn out,

It seems to me that you have been more than fair, particularly leaving your children in the FMH, paying maintenance etc etc. If it goes to court this will go in your favour.

The court always put the children as primary consideration, housing needs of both parties. You do have a higher income than your wife, but it may be looked at that she is not maximising her earning potential - particularly as the children are now of an age when they are more independent.

You will need to provide full and frank disclosure on a form E, this will include the CETV (Cash Equivalent Transfer Value) of your pension. Your wife is using your pension as an offsetting tool. I would go with your proposal of pension sharing and selling the FMH (as you mentioned that's what she wants to do now), offering you 15% is not particularly fair. Courts usually start at 50/50 taking into account liquid assets and pensions being treated as illiquid assets (I know - my case went to a final hearing in November 2007). they work from there taking into consideration ALL assets/liabilities on an income and assets schedule. Your solicitor doesn't seem to be giving very helpful advice although does have a point that it does come down to the judge on the day and a good barrister. I suspect your wife will be eligible for legal aid on an income such as hers - not fair either as you won't be. It will come to an end - be guided by what the court ask for, complete and copy your own Form E - saves money - have it sworn in (free at any court). If you feel confident represent yourself at the FDR as it's usually a waste of time unless agreement can be made - the judge won't make any decisions - trust me - and it will NEVER be the same judge at the final hearing if it gets that far.

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03 Mar 08 #15661 by Exasperated
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Many thanks to Fiona & Elizabeth,
Sorry for not thanking you earlier but tried posting this at the weekend but trouble with my computer or server ?
Have printed off the pdf document and am trying to digest what it is saying. I have no plans to sell the house I am in now, I need it for me and my son + I am tied in to a 5yr fixed rate mortgage and if I come out before that time I will suffer penalties of £5k. I have started filling in the form E and have listed this fact, so do not think the court will ask me to sell, doesn’t make financial sense!
The former matrimonial home & my pension are the only things that are in dispute and have been for all this time due to either my wife or her solicitor digging their heels in about wanting all, then just recently conceding 15% of the equity in our joint house.
I realise the fact that the courts will see that my earning potential is greater than my wife's but surely that does not mean that I have to work until I retire paying off such a big mortgage which if they get their way is what I will be left with, then she goes out and buys a house for cash? You can buy a nice house for £150k round here, also have heard her plans are to pool the money in with her boyfriend (who has just divorced) and buy a place together so they may end up with a mansion!
What happens if the courts decide largely in her favour, then they buy a house away from this area and then the youngest decides he doesn’t like it and wants to come back here and live with me? She will have no kids then and she's gone off with all the money?
I have asked through the solicitor why she chooses to work part time and the reply was that her employer cannot give her more hrs, well I know that if needs must there are other full time jobs out there or other part time jobs to fill in, I just think that with what she is earning + what I give her + what benefits she gets she doesn’t need to, either that or she is advised not to so it looks better in court?
My pension is a good one but am willing to share it, other people think I am daft. She seems adamant she doesn’t want it and that may be the real reason she is taking me to court because I want a larger part of the equity to pay off most of my new mortgage. I have just this week instructed my solicitor to concede the pension part as per their wishes but on the proviso that I receive 40% of the equity and not 15%, I have also stated that I will pay for the repairs to our garage/house so that it is in a fit state to sell and not ask for reimbursement as part of this agreement, I am trying as I always have been to be fair and reasonable expecting the same back but it doesn’t happen! :(

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