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stop spouse spending joint assets on legal fees?

  • JulieP
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01 May 12 #327623 by JulieP
Topic started by JulieP
legal advice or experience please!

Can I stop stbx spending our entire marital joint assets on his legal fees?

My stbx has spent his entire life''s savings and is now going into debt paying legal fees. He is defending the divorce, is taking me to court in child hearings, and in finances. He is paying city law firm and barristers, spent £70K so far, all his assets are now gone. I earn far less than him, and am living off my savings and only have a little money left, I could not afford a solicitor and am self representing.

He might run up a £100k debt at the rate he is going - my question is:
can I stop my stbx legal fees debt being taken out of our joint marital assets when we come to finances - ie will the house have to be sold to pay his debt, or will the marital pot be divided up first, and his legal fees debt is not included? Or is this legal fee debt included in the marital pot, and we might end up with nothing to share out ?

  • Hamilton1
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01 May 12 #327628 by Hamilton1
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Julie P,

This is a common complaint that I hear from my own client - they are concerned that their stbx has chosen the most expensive firm in the city. He cannot be denied legal advice and certainly he if free to choose the firm that he wishes to utlise. This does not mean however that you will be left with nothing. As you have a child/children, in the event that there is very little left their needs will be given paramount consideration and it will be considered to be a ''needs'' case. I.e all of his legal fees will not come out of the legal pot.

IS there any way you can discuss matters in relation to children and come to an agreement? There are never any winners when it comes to children cases except perhaps for the lawyers. In relation to the decree proceedings, if you are short of funds I would suggest that you fight this by yourself and save any small amout that you may have for legals for assistance or representation at the hearings. Make good use of the pro bono lawyers that are often at Court and see if you are eligible for legal aid so that you can argue your corner - it may help take some of the stress out of it for you.If your husband is intent on using expensive lawyers Im afraid there is little tha you can do other than choosing which battles to fight.

Sorry I do not have happier news for you.

H

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01 May 12 #327649 by JulieP
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Dear H
Thank you for the advice, I really appreciate it. I hadn''t heard about pro bono solicitors being available - is there somewhere I can find out about these?

i don''t qualify for legal aid - my problem is I earn more than their threshold but am dealing with all the household bills as my stbx stopped contributing to these. So I am spending more than I am earning and am living on my last remaining savings. I cannot afford a solicitor at all, I would then myself have to take out a loan, but I can see from my income that I would never be able to pay back such a loan.

stbx has refused to discuss anything with me, and says he wants a judge to decide everything, and he will have his solicitors and barrister deal with this all (all at £400+ VAT per hour). It is truely bizarre.

He has told me he will spend every penny on legal fees, and his solicitors seem to be delighted with this - they haven''t mentioned that his legal fees are close to being equal to the assets of the marriage!

Can I ask - would his legal fees be taken into account, ie this debt deducted from the marital pot?
so say house equity is £200K, his legal fees debt £100K, would this then leave just £100K in the marital pot? It makes a huge difference as to whether I am left with £100K or £50K assuming 50:50 asset split.
could this force the sale of the house if he plunges into huge debt because of these legal fees?

Worst case scenario, if his legal fees debt were to rise to £200K (he has already spent £70K on legal fees and we haven''t even got close to starting the hearings in earnest...) , would the house then be sold to pay for the legal fees, and I would be left without any assets, basically nothing?

thanks!
J

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01 May 12 #327721 by Hamilton1
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J,

For example at the Principal Registry in the centre of London there are barristers chambers that assist people at court for free on Thursdays. So depending on which Court you are in you could enquire with the Court office of any firms of solicitors or barristers chambers that are offering such a service.

You certainly do have an argument that he has acted unreasonably in that he has not entered into any negotiations and that he has used joint matrimonial assets to fund his legal fees and thus the sums spent should remain part of the ''pot'' and that he should thereafter pay for his fees from his share of any division of capital. The house will not be sold simply to fund his legal fees - the court will want to ensure that you and your child have a roof over your head as clearly he is spending joint assets.

H

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