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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.

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Worried I'll lose out by divorcing

  • Wyvernchick
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23 Oct 07 #5160 by Wyvernchick
Topic started by Wyvernchick
Can anyone suggest where I might stand with all this?

I've been married for 9.5 years to a man who had basically lived off of my efforts and I've been an idiot in not getting things moving sooner. My reasons for this will hopefully become clearer as I go on.

When I got married I had a large sum of money in trust that I used as a deposit on our house (£35,000). That money was not an asset of the marriage but obviously, the house is.

I have been working full time in a not-very-well-paid job for most of the time since then and all the bills and mortgage have gone through my bank account, mainly because when I entrusted these things to my husband, they didn't get paid. As I have been earning just about enough to cover the bills, he has never felt the need to get a "proper" job, and has spent much of the marriage working part-time or on benefits. We both have disabilities - he has a form of arthritis and I have severe depression - and for most of the marriage, he's been using his health as an excuse to not do much while I've been struggling to keep going with mine. I should have gotten out years ago, but when you have depression as I do, coping with all this feels insurmountable sometimes and I've been guilty of the whole "anything for a quiet life" thing.

I had my second nervous breakdown brought on by the stress of the situation earlier this year and finally decided to leave my job, so now I'm a student and he still refuses to take financial responsibility for anything, which is the main reason I'm now considering divorcing him. As far as he's concerned, he gives me 50% of his wages and that's all I'm getting, despite my having paid out about 80% of mine on bills for almost a decade.

What worries me is that I'll be the person considered to have been supporting him throughout the marriage and he'll actually come out of this better than I will, even though I've always been the person to put everything in and he's never been prepared to compromise on what he'll contribute, no matter how bad the situation got. We actually went from a situation of having a mortgage of only £11,000 to having one of £47,000 over the years because releasing equity was the only way to keep our heads above water as I have simply never earned enough to support us both. Now I technically have no wage at all as I am in receipt of student funding (grants and loans), so I have no idea what I would do if I was ordered to pay him some kind of maintenance. Could that happen? I hadn't even thought of that until I looked at the maintenance calculator!

We don't have any children, which is a blessing, but I just don't know where to turn. I really don't want to lose everything I've worked for, though I won't be sorry to see the back of the house because it just makes me miserable now.

What do I do?

  • LittleMrMike
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23 Oct 07 #5163 by LittleMrMike
Reply from LittleMrMike
Sorry to hear about your situation.

I think it is most unlikely that you would have to pay maintenance to your husband. The fact that you have been the supporting spouse doesn't, I think, matter all that much, a judge has to look at the situation as it is now. I wouldn't dismiss the possibility that he might have to pay you, at least for a period.

The main issue is the house, and where the two of you are going to live.

Where the parties are relatively young ( you don't say, and I don't like asking ladies their age !! ) and there are no children of the marriage, the preferred course of action is often a sale and division of the proceeds. Certainly, if neither of you could afford to live there, this makes financial sense. I don't really know enough to assess how viable an option this is. One thing you have to bear in mind is that a lump sum can affect your right to benefits.

Another possible solution, and clearly not a possibility for you, I would have thought, is a buy out. That is, one spouse gets the property outright and makes a lump sum payment to the other as compensation for the loss of his/her share. But could he afford to do that ?

I would think, madam, that it would make sense for you to make an appointment with a CAB for a benefits check, now that you are, or soon will be, living apart.

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