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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.


Do you need help sorting out a fair financial settlement?

Our consultant service offers expert advice and support to help you reach agreement on a fair financial settlement quickly, and for less than a quarter of the cost of using a traditional high street solicitor.


What is a fair settlement with the house?

  • muttley
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20 Sep 07 #3714 by muttley
Topic started by muttley
I was married for 22 years - four kids (11,18,21 and 23 at the time) when my wife annouced she was gay. This was in 1998. She left the marital home and left me with the 11 and 18yr old children. During the marriage my wife did not work until she went to Uni when the youngest was at full time school. When she worked she kept all her earnings and did not contribute to the household with these earnings. She did however, use some of her inheritance from her parents to extend the house as did I with my earning and bonuses. When she left she paid no maintenance for the youngest or gave any financial help towards the Uni fees of the 18yr old. She has not financially contributed towards the house since she left either mortgage, endowement policy etc. Her long term relationship has just finished and she has recently moved in with one of the children. We want to sell the FMH and I want a 60/40 split in my favour but she will only agree to a 50/50 split on both proceeds from the house and endowment There is a mortgage to settle and a small endowment due in about 8 years.
My solicitor wants to go to court - but has warned it will be expensive. I met someone new 5 years ago and she moved in 4 years ago and my wife (soon x wife - nisi on 24.09.07) wants to know about her assetts and income etc. I understand 50/50 is the starting point but she wont move beyond this at the moment. Since my new partner moved in we have both spent considerable money on the house to maximise the potential asking price. My new partner and I want to move to France asap as non of the children are now dependant but until the split of the house is settled we cannot go anywhere - does anyone have any advice - anything is gratefully received!

  • LittleMrMike
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20 Sep 07 #3718 by LittleMrMike
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Hmmmm - I think I would advise you, first of all, to consider how wide is the gap between you. What actually is the difference between 40% and 50% of the equity as far as you are concerned ? I mention that, sir, because you always have to balance what you might stand to get against the costs of receiving it. What I mean is that there is no point spending £20,000 arguing over £10,000. You need to be have a general idea of the likely cost of a Court hearing if it gets as far as a full hearing, which, I may add, the majority of cases don't. It is perfectly proper for you to ask your solicitor for a general idea of the likely cost.

The problem from your point of view, sir, if you don't mind my saying so, is that you are thinking in financial terms - you have put in more than she has, so you should be entitled to more - but what you don't mention is your x2b's contribution as a mother and home-maker. The Courts will take that into account as well, and have said that there is no difference between the husband's contribution as the breadwinner and the wife's as the home maker and mother. If you don't believe that, read the judgment of Lord Nicholls in the case of Miller and McFarlane ( to get it, try using the keywords House of Lords + Judgement + Miller, which should do it ) .

I am by nature a cautious person, and I have to make the point that in cases like this, you can, and almost certainly will, get different advice from different people, and, I may add, different verdicts from different judges ! If you want my opinion I think the Courts will go for 50/50 on the house.

But there are a few options which you might consider : (a) suggest to your wife you might split the difference at 55/45 to you but at least you avoid the costs of a legal battle (b) split 50/50 but you keep the endowment ; (c) if you do go to Court, you will find at a fairly early stage that you will get what is known as a Financial Dispute Resolution or FDR. This will be conducted by a judge who will tell you that, if the case doesn't settle, he or she will not conduct the Final Hearing, but (s)he will indicate what decision (s) he would make. So it is a way of getting an independent legal judgment on the issue and quite a few cases do settle at this stage. It can be a way of testing the temperature of the water before you dive in and get soaked. And it doesn't have to be massively expensive to get this far.

I know this is inconclusive, and the state of the law being what it is, I could be wrong, but somehow I do not think I am far out. See what other people think.

Mike 100468

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21 Sep 07 #3737 by muttley
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The split in equity - will be 60k with a 60/40 split in my favour. The endowment will be approx 8k each on a 50/50 split if sold now. This is a lot of money to me. My solicitor has warned me it will be expensive as we have to go to court in London as the divorce was filed there. The way I see it, it's not me or x2b that will benefit financially if this is the course of action taken - and could have a bad impact on the kids, especially as she lives with one of them.

I agree I am thinking in financial terms. My x2b has shares in a family business - these shares can only be transferred to family memebrs unless the business is sold. There is a rumour that the business maybe sold in which case as a director and share holder she would benefit from a generous windfall. If we go to court , apparently there are more fees for accountants to ascertain the financial worth of her shares!!!

I appreciate that my x2b has made a contribution as a wife and mother - however, surely as a joint owner of the property she has a joint responsibility to pay the mortgage/endowment and maintainance to her dependant child, especailly as she has only lived in the FMH for 2/3 of the time we have owned it.? I wonder if I had left the FMH, if I would have got away with no payments and 50% share of the house???

When I suggest anything to her - her reply is to put it in writing to her solicitor - time consuming, expensive and frustrating!!! mediation is my next course of action I think??

We have been in this limbo state for 5 months and I wonder if it's time to push this issue to some sort of closure, whatever the cost?

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21 Sep 07 #3790 by LittleMrMike
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What I am concerned about, both for you and your x2b, is that between the two of you , what you spend in fighting the case may well be such that the costs cancel out any benefit which you may achieve. It was for that reason that I asked you for a guestimate of the amount at issue.

It seems that you want £60K from the sale of the house and she wants £50K, a difference of £10K. There is £16K in the endowment policy and you don't say what your respective claims on that are except that she wants 50%.

I think you are perfectly justified in asking your solicitor for an estimate of what all this is going to cost you if it goes to a full hearing. The fact that it is in London must add to the cost, especially if your solicitor is not based there. It means all sorts of extra costs that would not be incurred if the hearing were held more locally. You wouldn't have an extension on your house built without an estimate first, would you ?

Can your wife not see this ? I think your combined costs could be well into five figures, and the lawyers get paid whatever the outcome.

Yes, you are right, the important thing for both of you is to resolve your differences and reach a state of closure as quickly and cheaply as possible. One option which I suggested to you is to use the FDR as a form of arbitration if the issues are relatively straightforward. The judge who conducts the hearing will try to broker a settlement and (s)he will give an indication as to what (s) would do. It is a way of getting an independent legal mind to give an opinion on the matters in dispute at a relatively early stage ; the disadvantage is that the ruling is informal and not binding. It leaves either of you free to fight on until you get to a final hearing when a different judge will impose a solution which, subject to appeal, is binding on both of you. mediation will not work if both of you take entrenched positions and refuse to budge, I'm afraid.

Mike

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24 Sep 07 #3870 by muttley
Reply from muttley
Thanks for that Mike but I think I have not explained the equity split correctly. I will stand to receive 60k more than my x2b with a 60/40 split (assuming we achieve what we hope). This is why this is a lot of money and possibly why she wants the 50/50 as she feels it is too much for me to get. If we'd settled on the house when she left in 1998 - she would have got approx 40k less than she would get now - for someown who has not contributed a single penny to to the FMH, or lived in it for the past 9 years, or paid for the recent refurbishment (without which the house would not be on the market for the price it is today) I feel a bit aggreaved that she will not negiotiate past 50/50!!!

She wants a Clean Break divorce - maybe to protect the large sum of money she would receive if her family business was sold? If this was the case - her assets would be worth substantially more than mine - as currently my only asset if the equity in the house (as is hers as far as I know). Neither of us have decent pensions. Could I agree to a 50/50 split on the proceeds and make a claim on her possible windfall - she is talking about the possible inheritence I may inherit when my parents die - even though I am not even sure if I will even inherit anything when they go. Would the courts take into account the fact she paid no maintance for 6.5 years as she claimed she could not afford it?? I appreciate that all cases are different. Obviously my solicitor thinks I have a case - however, so does hers!!! Meanwhile, the situation just carries on!:(

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