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Complex finances/custody issues

  • goforit
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30 May 07 #479 by goforit
Topic started by goforit
Here's an unusual situation. I'm considering divorcing my wife on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. Our financial affairs probably differ to many others so I would like a view on the possible financial outcome should we proceed with divorce.

Married for 9 years with 2 young children, one aged 5 the other aged 7
Currently all of us living in the marital home which has been paid for and currently worth about £600,000.
Wife works part time for 2 mornings per week earning £6,000 per annum
I do not and have not worked for 5 years and have no plans to do so.
Housewife/Househusband duties shared between wife and I. Although she probably does 75% of the duties.
I have investments totalling £500,000 which generate an income of £17,000 per annum. My investments were acquired and built up before I even met my wife.
As a 50 year old without any academic/professional qualification, my earnings capability would be in the region of £20,000 if I'm lucky. However, I'm planning of going back to full/part time education for 3 to 4 years.
My wife's earning capability if she were to return to full time work would be around £25,000 per annum.

My questions are, if we go ahead with Divorce, what view would the court likely take on:
1)a financial settlement
2)the marital home which is a 4 bed detached
3)could the house be sold to allow me to buy a small place of my own to live?
4)Would I stand any chance of getting custody of the children? On the basis that I could support them in our marital home and my wife's earnings capability would be higher than mine.
Any views would be appreciated.

Also, does anyone have any suggestions as to what I could do to influence/benefit my financial outcome. For example, lump my investments into a pension fund making them inaccessible to greedy hands and her potential new partner who has his eyes on our house already.

  • LittleMrMike
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31 May 07 #483 by LittleMrMike
Reply from LittleMrMike
Dear Goforit

Yes, you are not wrong in saying that this is a complicated situation. You say that you are contemplating taking divorce proceedings against your wife. It is certainly very sensible of you to think of the possible financial consequences before taking such a step. You have to strike a balance between on the one hand, staying in an unhappy marriage, and on the other, ending it and suffering the financial consequences of a divorce. At least, let your decision be as informed as possible.

The problem that I find is that there are a number of imponderables in your situation which make it very difficult to predict how a Court might react when faced with these facts.

My feeling is that the crucial issue here is your children. In a divorce situation, you must remember that the courts will always put their interests first. Your children are young, and this would probably be a factor which would be in your wife's favour. If she gets the day to day care of the children, that will restrict her ability to earn a living, and it also has the implication that the children will need a home. In the majority of cases there is just not enough equity in the home to make a sale of the house and division of the proceeds practical. So the usual outcome is that the parent with care ( usually the wife ) gets the right to live there for as long as the children are still dependent, or until the wife re-marries or cohabits. If your wife gets an order like that, then if her ' partner ' moves in with her it could trigger an immediate sale and thus defeat the object.

However here the fact that there is considerable equity in the house means that a sale of a house and division of the proceeds could perhaps be a possibility, but please don't ask me to speculate, because so much depends on the local housing market.

Next is the issue of your capital, on which you rely for your income. I think there is a good chance that your wife could make a claim against it, and she will probably get something, although it's unlikely to be as much as 50%. That has potentially serious implications for your income. Bear in mind that capital like yours will disqualify you from most means tested benefits. If your wife gets a share it will probably affect her right to claim benefits as well. So the question a Court will ask is : could you work ? If I may say so, you strike me as an intelligent man, and you should be able to obtain employment. It is very difficult to predict how a Court would view this, because there aren't too many people with sufficient capital to generate enough income to make it unnecessary for them to work. But the Court can view your earning potential as a resource. It will ask the same questions about your wife - could she work part time ? I can't possibly answer, because so mcuh depends on your circumstances.

You need to remember that the Courts have wide powers to set aside transactions which are made with the intent of defeating a wife's claims for financial relief.

I'm afraid, Mr Goforit, that divorce can seriously damage your wealth, as many readers of the site ( myself included ) will ruefully testify. You have considerable resources and in a divorce situation your wife is almost certain to want a share of them. These resources are such that it is necessary that you should take advice from a lawyer who does family work and nothing else. You may come to the conclusion that it is better, to quote the Bard, to bear the evils that you have than fly to others that you know not of.

I hope you may find what I have said helpful to some extent, but you must treat it as an informal view from one who retired some time ago and whose knowledge could be out of date. You must - I repeat must - check it out with a lawyer. It would be false economy to do otherwise.

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