I''m trying to get an idea of what is a fair and likely assessment in my upcoming separation. We are still living together currently and have yet to tell our children.
I am 41, my stbx is 40. We have been married for 14 years, and lived together for ~5 years prior. We have 2 beautiful children aged 10 and 7.
We both have our own businesses (me with a business partner in rented office, her on her own at home). I work full-time, though 4 days per week I sort out the children in the morning and walk them to school, and 1 day per week I finish at 3pm to collect them from school. I''m rarely home later than 5.40pm. My stbx works school hours, except for the 1 day when I finish early.
Our earnings have been up and down over the years, though currently I earn a little more (I take around £2500 per month). I don''t know exactly what she takes from her business now, but despite working part time, I guess around £2000 (so, pro-rata she probably earns a little more). Until a year or so ago, when things in the marriage went wrong, I considered our finances to be one big pot which we put in whatever we could.
She has a car worth c.£4K, I have a car worth c.£1K + £2-3K in savings. We own a property which we will sell for c.£600K. We have a mortgage of £224K and a credit cards of around £6K, leaving around £370K in equity. For each of us to buy a property in the same, right school catchment area would be c.£250K (2bd) or c.£280K (3bd). If equity is evenly split, we would each need a mortgage of c.£100K
Until recently, we had agreed to split the equity evenly, and more importantly have equally shared 50/50 care of our children (I can adjust my working hours to suit, and she can increase hers and have exactly the same opportunity to earn). She had (I think) plugged in some figures to the CSA calculator and arrived a figure of £44 per week to be paid to her (she claims the cb and is hence known as the resident parent). Now, in my mind, we''ll have exactly the same childcare costs. I emailed her to say that I''m happy to pay this while she ramps up her business to a reasonable level (and have the same income), but to review in 6 or 12 months time. She indicated by phone that she wasn''t happy with this, and it should be until the children are 18. She''s now also seen a solicitor and has mentioned that she could get more of the house, and/or more money each month.
The only thing I really care about is equal care of our children, but I don''t want the financial arrangements to be unfair either. I don''t want to see her stuggle, because I want her and our children to be happy when they''re together, but I don''t want to struggle either. I think I''m a good Dad and a very hands-on parent. I''d do absolutely anything for them, and want them to have 2 stable bases to call home. I don''t want to be an every-other-weekend Dad, and I honestly believe they deserve better than that from me.
Her business has not been great recently (I guess partly due to the stresses of the past 18 months, but this applies to me too) and she claims poverty regularly, and complains about ''living in a shoebox'' soon. Given her comments about the finances, my fear is that her solicitor will talk her into staying part-time, have me pay more and see my children less. It''s obvious I will fight this and rack up his fees.
I''m hoping for some parity in this. I''ve been trying to make the process as simple and easy as possible, but I''m starting to fear the worst.
Anyway, oh wise-ones of wikivorce, what do you think?
It is never easy to answer a question like this because the law at present allows for a very wide measure of discretion.
But in your case the positives that I see ( from your point of view ) are
1. Both of you work, she works from home. I can assure you that many wives do not. Your incomes are very close and when you factor is child support ( which is relatively easy to calculate ) then the net result is that your incomes after separation may be the same. It is important that your wife re-calculates her tax credits after separation and for you to know what the effect on her income will be. I would not be surprised if, after all this, she finished up the higher earner, though she may well have more mouths to feed, depending on the childcare arrangements.
2. This would suggest to me that spousal maintenance is likely to be nominal only ( 5 p a year and in practice you don''t pay it ) and as many wiki''s will tell you ( including me ! ) this is a big plus.
3. As regards housing. The ideal, if it can be done, is to make sure that both of you have homes which are adequate to house both of you and permit staying access for the kids. That is something which can be hard to achieve but in your case there is a lot of equity and two reasonable, though not munificent, incomes.
4. As regards her solicitor''s statement that she should get more - well, it is true that many separating women do - 60% or even more, but there is a reason for this, namely that the women has a lower mortgage capability. But if your incomes are more or less equal - that hardly applies, does it ?
5. I never like to advise on housing, because there are just too many variables. The overall objective is as I have described. But I have attached a file which is an article I wrote to give some general guidance to people in your situation.
6. But for goodness sake, don''t litigate unless you have to. Try mediation. Neither of you good people need to waste money on lawyers'' fees if you can reach agreement without going to Court. From what you say, I get the impression this is not impossible.
Attachment Housing_wiki_options-093c4fab6d186027a544d8e12e026cb5.doc not found
Sorry for my delay in replying. Thank you so much for such a detailed and useful answer.
It''s now a waiting game. We had a conversation a couple of days ago, and it seems her business has not been good this year at all. She mentioned something about chucking it in. This obviously concerns me.
I don''t want to see her struggle, so for now I''ve suggested I give her slightly more each month, but with the proviso that this is until her business is ''back on it''s feet'' (a term which needs definition I know!)
Will keep you posted, but thank you so much again.