Here's where we are.
Wife doesn't work and hasn't done for 15 months.
She's filed for divorce after I had admitted an affair 2 years ago.
We currently live together.
I work full time in my own business.
We have 3 children who live with us - the 2 eldest are from a previous relationship.
The father contributes next to nothing to their upbringing.
I'm assuming our 'lot' will be values and split but am unsure how the division will be made.
Any help much appreciated.
I am afraid to have to say that you have not given nearly enough information to enable me to do more than give you some advice of a very general nature.
The first issue is your home. I am afraid to have to tell you that there is a very strong probability that, where there are dependent children involved, the parent with care will be given the right to continue to live there while the children are still dependent. When the children reach majority then the property may be sold at that stage and the proceeds divided. But it is not unknown for the wife ( it usually is the wife ) to be allowed to live there even after the children grow up. This outcome is not inevitable, but it does happen with a frequency that, from a male point of view, is rather depressing.
However the Courts do not like to make an order which deprives the non-custodial parent of all interest in the house, and one way of compensating him for the house is to allow him to keep a higher share of the rest of the assets, or by reducing maintenance payments, and, perhaps in your case, by leaving your business alone.
Now I do not profess to be an expert in businesses, and the valuation has to be carried out by a qualified valuer. There is a recognised potential problem with businesses in that the claims of a divorcing spouse can potentially have an adverse effect on the viability of a business. If a spouse has to sell to pay off his wife it may leave him without income. So there might be a possibility - and I stress that this is all it is, a possibility and no more - of a trade off which gives your wife the home and you keep the business. It may not in any event be in her interests to milk the business dry, since if your income is destroyed or seriously reduced, it may not affect only your income - it may also affect hers, Which brings me logically to the next issue - do you have to pay your wife any spousal support, maintenance, alimony ( I usually call it ali-moan-y ! ) but you know what I mean.
The issue as to whether you have to pay your wife spousal maintenance, or periodical payments, to use the correct
terminology - is bound to arise if your wife doesn't work. In your case it will probably mean that your wife will be legally aided and that, from your point of view, is bad news. Legal aid is only a loan and has to be repaid sooner or later, but the day of reckoning can be postponed for many years. But your wife doesn't have to dig into her pocket to fund her legal costs, as you will have to do. Inevitably, that puts you at a disadvantage.
I am not trying to scare the ***** out of you, sir, but I am trying to glean from what you say a general picture of what the issues might be. Frankly, I think you need a solicitor, and I think it could be false economy for you not to do so. Try mediation if you can. The less you spend on lawyers the more there is for you.
We both have good solicitors but I think it's a bit early for mediation.
Also, my wife has been advised to pay her solicitors fees from her settlement.
The issue of legal aid has not been raised.
In terms of the business, I expect this to be valued in the coming weeks.
My concern is how the 'pot' will be split.
My other questions is whether my wife's earning potential will be taken into consideration - this amount is significant and could have a bearing moving forward.
Any further advice would be much appreciated.
Well, you are certainly right in thinking that it is too early to enter into mediation before your assets have been properly valued. I wouldn't dismiss the idea out of hand though. Properly done, it can be less stressful and less expensive than going through the courts.
As to your wife's earning capacity - well yes, you are right, earning capacity is a resource and therefore is one of the factors that a Court is statutorily required to take into account. I can't comment on your case because I don't know the details. But very often it does happen that a wife's childcare responsibilities have a negative effect on her earning capacity. But in the longer term, as the children get older, this becomes increasingly less so, and in general terms a recipient of maintenance does have a duty, within the bounds of reasonableness, to maximise her income.