I've just had a free consultation with a solicitor and, whilst they caveated that their advice was not based on a full form E disclosure, they suggested that my wife could possibly get a Mesher Order for the FMH for the next 16 years. With rising interest rates the mortgage payments are likely to equate to 65% of her net income when a new fix comes around and the solicitor suggested she might be entitled to significant amounts of spousal maintenance in order to pay the mortgage throughout that time. As £700 of her projected income was universal credit, I would also have to "bridge the gap" and then pay further maintenance on top for her to meet these payments. I would also have to assume all her debt payments. I'll relay the more detailed finances below, but essentially my income would go like this:
Net Income: £4,800
Loans: £300 child maintenance: £900
Spousal Maintenance: £1,600
Remainder for me: £1,400
When my youngest reached 21, because of the difference in our incomes it would also be unlikely that I would get 50%, probably more like 30%. I will be 56 years old by then and my chances of getting a decent size mortgage would be minimal meaning whilst she would be an owner occupier with 70% of the equity of the FMH, I would have to rent for the rest of my life. She'd also be getting half my pension.
Is this outcome really likely? I'm struggling to see the fairness in an outcome which to all intents and purposes would have me doing all the work and her having all the income. Would a court really expect me to get out of bed in the morning at 6am to commute and work 10 hour days in order to live on what is basically a minimum wage? Can anyone also advise what powers the court would actually have if I quit my job seeing as she'd be getting the lion's share of the capital anyway and the rest would probably have already been spent on legal fees? I want to support my children but it feels like I'm going to have my high income used against me to such an extent that I will be put into poverty in a way a man on only £50k never would be.
More details as follows:
Me: Husband, age 39, gross income £85k, have an essential travel cost of £600 a month to go to work.
Her: Wife, age 38, earns £12k but if she sticks to career path she recently trained for can earn £30k within 4 years and rising to around £45k over the subsequent decade (but reluctant to maximise her earning capacity), no essential travel costs.
Children: 3 (ages 10, 7 and 5). Split over each fortnight of 5 days with me, 9 with her. Shared holidays.
FMH: Worth £400k, £260k mortgage. Properties with the same number of bedrooms and within catchment can be purchased for £280-300k.
Pensions: Around £150k for me, she probably has no more than about £2k.
Umm. If the FMH can be sold and two smaller/cheaper properties purchased that is the usual route the court would take. Your difficulty would appear to be her lack of earnings/ mortgage capacity. This would mean you would probably have to be party to any mortgage she has as well as having a mortgage of your own. You need to see what's possible.
A mesher type order does not have to last until the youngest is 21. It can be put on a new property if necessary.
Hopefully the solicitor was outlining worst case scenario perhaps with a view to signing you up!! You may want to have a look at our divorce consultant service which can help with financial disclosure etc much more cost effectively.