Had 1st mediation appointment just over a week ago and finding it difficult to get my head around a few things!! Firstly.... after questioning my salary ( he thought I earned more!!) and saying that my daughter and I should move to a smaller house (so that I can release equity in it so that he can afford to buy a property in the local area- no objection to him moving into the local area) the medaiator has suggested that we both look for suitable houses for the other!! What does that mean?? The situation is that I can afford to pay him around £95K (the house is worth £315K with £21K left to pay on the mortgage -although he cashed in the endowment which was in his name and to be used to pay off the mortgage, bought a car and rented a flat only to decide a week later that he didn't want a flat so moved in with his parents) this £95K would be after the £11.5 K for "my half" of the outstanding mortgage. His pension is worth about £115K mine about £8K. He is saying he cannot afford to buy a property in the area with this £95K plus a mortgage (he earns around £20K per annum and me about £25K, so I should sell so that we can both buy same size properties and I should wait and claim his pension when he retires? This doesn't really sound agreable as it seems like I'm bending but he isn't and can force me to sell my and my daughter's(she's 13 and his child) home (my elder daughter who is 25 -not his- has come home since we split, to live after he kicked her out aged 15 - social services were involved,and she has been v supportive) and give him a big lump sum so he can buy somewhere and I have to wait 17 years for his pension....without taking into consideration he has spent £13k which was supposed to be to pay off the mortgage and I'm expected to just accept it as he can't afford what he wants to live in.....hope someone can help as it's making me feel very insecure
Firstly let me start by saying I have no legal training and everything I write below is based on what I have gleaned from my research on Wiki and family law books.
All assets from the marriage are in the marital pot. It would appear from your figures that the split being discussed is:
1. No spousal maintenance as you earn more than him.
2.child maintenance as per CSA rates (not mentioned so I've taken this as read.)
3. Assets are house and pensions and "savings" in the form of endowment, equity in house is £315K-£21K=£294K. Split is £199K to you/£95K to him (or 68%/32% split in your favour. This seems generous to you in that you have only one dependent child of secondary school age, however the pensions are very imbalanced in his favour (115-8=£107K).Savings £13K.
It would appear that you get £104K more out of the house than him, but he gets £107K more out of the pensions than you, but the pension pot is not hard cash, he cannot take it and spend on housing, speed boats or anything else, it is tied up in a scheme until he retires. Therefore the "cash" from the pension cannot be considered as equal to the "cash" from the house. The question is how much is the "excess" pension pot worth in offsetting the pension against the house. This will depend on how far away his retirement is. If he retires tomorrow the pension can be considered on a £ for £ basis against the house. The further away from retirement he is each £ of pension is considered to be worth less when balancing the assets.
Completely random figures to give you an example. If he has 20 years before retirement each £1 of his mention might be considered to be the equivalent of 50p of the hard cash equity in the house therefore you get £104K equity more than him, and he gets £53.5K pension more than you. You would then argue that he also took £13K "savings" of which only half was his. Total settlement :
YOU: £199K equity from house + £4K pension(applied same rules to your pension)=£203K
HE:£95K equity from house + £57.5K pension + £7.5K from equity (half was already his) =£160K
This brings the split to £203K/£160K (56/44% split in your favour) which seems about right given the age of your child.
The above in italics is just an example, he may be nearer retirement than I have assumed, or you may not agree that his pension should be "discounted" at that rate.
He needs to be housed in a property that is suitable for him with space to have his daughter to stay, your housing needs will be assesed based on you and your dependent child, I'm afraid your adult daughter is no in the equation for housing needs.
If there is not enough money in the pot to house you both then your 12 years olds needs come first - effectively you get to stay put. As you appear to be "overhoused" (i.e. there may be enough equity available to house you both according to your needs) the next step is to see if there is housing available locally that you both can afford.
The idea of each looking for a house for each other is so neither of you can say - "nothing out there for the money (plus whatever mortgage you can raise) I need more". This is not to say the mediator will accept it is reasonable for you to move to a sink estate if that is what stbx finds, nor that he should if that is what you find. You are both expected to be reasonable.
I hope this gives you a clearer picture, but it is complicated and I suspect I may have confused you more. Perhaps someone else can offer more clarity.
I think the suggestion is that you each provide details of properties you think would be suitable for the other - I assume so that each of you can see what the other is suggesting.
I would expect that you will each then have the opportunity to comment on and discuss these, so that if (for instance) all the propertuies he suggests for you are in a very dodgy area, or a long way from your daughter's school, you can explian why they wouldn't be suitable, and vice versa.
On the face of it, you have a total of around £287K so if you are offering him £95K you would retain £183K - is that on the basis that you could then rehouse mortgage free? I think a court would be likely to say it was reasonable for you to both have mortgages, given that you have similar incomes, and similar housing needs. (It's reasonable for him to want somewhere which is bg enough to have contact there)
Although it is a priority to ensure you and your (minor) daughter have a secure home, that does not automatically mean that you get to keep the house you are currently living in, as the split has to be fair to both of you. The issue is more one of how much you will need in order to suitably rehouse your self and your daughter, subject to an affordable mortgage.
Ber in mind that as you have a higher income (around £1590 net as against his £1300 net per month, which with maintenace for your daugfhter could resukt in you having around £1700 and him around £1100) you will have greater mortgage capacity, so on an equal split the liklihood is that you will (if you wish) be able to afford a larger property.
A 50/50 split would give you about £143,500 each, (or £137K to him and £150K to you, if you had £13K to 'match' the endowment policy) - so one issue is likely to be to consider what you might be able to buy with that amount + a mortgage based on your mortgage capacity, and to then adjust if that would not give you enough to rehouse.
As your elder daughter is 25 she would be seen as an independent adult so her housing needs would not normally be taken into acount.
It's not so much about his being able to live where he wants, as about you both having a fair share of the available equity, subject to you being able to rehouse yourself and your daughter.
So far as pensions are concerned, it sounds as though he is suggesting an earmarking order - i.e that you would get a share of his pension when he retires.
This has the disadvantage that you don't control when the money is paid, as it is tied to his retirement, not yours, and it would end on his death. (It does potentially have the advantage that you might benefit from further payments he makes into his pension)
You can instead ask for a pension sharing order, so that some of his pension is transferred to you. You would then have this as a pension in your own right, compltely separate from his fund, so it would be payable on your retirement, not his.
Depending on what type of pension it is you may need to get specialist advice about what the % split ought to be, to give you equal income in retirement.
PS - I agree with what Ursa says about suggesting properties for each other. If you are looking for properties for him, you are ikely to look for more affordable properties.
Also, as you each have broadly similar housing needs, it isn't in either of your interests to suggest realyl cheap, grotty properties as if you do, the other person can say, "Well if [ex council house on sink estate] is suitable for me, it's equally suitable for you"!
You may be able to arge your needs are slightly different, as it is likely to be impoertnat for you to buy somewhere within a reasonbale distance of your daughter's school, whereas he could potentially be a little further away, unless she will regularly be with him mid-week.