Financial Dispute Resolution – look out for these stumbling blocks

Some spouses go prepared.

A Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) is a court appointment during which a divorcing couple can be helped towards a financial settlement. I usually welcome these hearings, but with new costs rules in place I have noticed an uncomfortable trend.

A typical FDR proceeds as follows. After an application has been issued to the court and formalities such as financial disclosure have been complied with, the parties are given the opportunity to settle the case on a “Without Prejudice” basis, similar to mediation.

A judge hears the parties in a courtroom – in most cases, this is a small private room – and attempts to effect a settlement. The parties are not called upon to give evidence, but listen to the arguments advanced on their behalf. The judge will have read the details of the parties’ respective positions beforehand. The judge indicates how the case is likely to play out, and the parties then go away to try and reach an agreement between themselves.

A successful outcome means that a couple can walk away from court ready to begin new lives. An unsuccessful outcome means that the case continues. When this happens legal costs will mount and several months later, a battle will be fought out in court. The cost, stress and worry of such a battle should never be underestimated.

However the pressure to achieve a successful outcome, together with the new rules requiring each party to pay their own costs, have become useful weapons in the unscrupulous spouse’s armoury.

It is worth bearing in mind that because judges are accustomed to an adversarial system, they don’t always approach FDRs as mediators. Many judges are excellent; however, if a judge does not use his or her skills to persuade the parties to negotiate, or to issue wake-up calls when necessary, a FDR can be a fruitless and expensive waste of time.

I am also beginning to think that in some cases, judges can be a little naïve when spouses decide to play to a dirtier game. This can happen when a wealthier spouse – and let’s say it is the husband, because it often is – makes his wife a deliberately low offer. For example, he may try to obtain a clean break rather than an agreement to pay maintenance, even when a clean break would be a highly unlikely outcome in court.

He knows his offer is too low, but he believes that he has little to lose. He can either force his wife into accepting the offer, because she is terrified about her mounting legal costs and the length of time it will take for the court hearing to take place, or he can force her to litigate and realise all those fears. If she litigates and he is ordered to pay her a greater sum, the only downside is his increased costs – and let’s remember, the wife still has her own bill to pay. For her, it can be a crushing defeat or a pyrrhic victory; for him, it can be a gamble that he is prepared to take.

As the economy goes from bad to worse, I have observed an increased number of such “gambles”. These can pose problems for judges. After all, faced with a commercially-minded, hard-headed litigant who is determined to push the other party into a corner, what can the court do? Very little, it seems. The court can merely conclude the FDR and make orders for the case to head for a final hearing.

In one case that I observed recently, the husband pulled this trick and the judge responded with a fruitless attempt to find some middle ground. But this middle ground suited no-one: the husband wouldn’t countenance it, and it came nowhere near what the wife was seeking. The judge did not give the husband the “hard word” to encourage him to move towards a financial settlement. So the husband left the court as he entered it: intending to take the case to a final hearing if necessary, but convinced that his wife will settle with him beforehand.

There are those who would argue that costs consequences may still arise if there is a failure to make sensible open proposals. However, Judges are more likely to regard this as an exceptional course of action rather than the norm.

If you are heading for a FDR, I wish you well – but please be aware of these potential pitfalls. When these hearings work, they work extremely well. However, it does concern me when spouses attempt to “game” them in the way that I have outlined above. In my opinion it is a failing of the system that needs to be remedied.

Marilyn Stowe

The senior partner at Stowe Family Law, Marilyn Stowe is one of Britain’s best known divorce lawyers with clients throughout the country, in Europe, the Far East and the USA.

View more from this author

70 comments

Justin Worden - July 23, 2009 at 1:13pm

Dear Marilyn,
I found your blog searching for the term “FDR”, three letter acronyms are horrific but I guess nessecary? I have my Financial court hearing tomorrow and looking through some of your articles I have been cheered up and educated. Wonderfully written and easy to understand which I believe is a real compliment…..And your picture of the rabbit in the pan put a smile on my face, thanks for the understanding…..These things are never easy:-)
Regards
Justin….

Marilyn Stowe - July 23, 2009 at 3:12pm

Thanks and good luck for tomorrow!

Jennifer Brown - April 16, 2010 at 1:05pm

Dear Marilyn,

I am in exactly the same position as this. Being a housewife and mother of 3 young children and only divorced for a short time, my ex-husband applied for variation. He has since cut monthly maintenance, pays it late and did not pay any of the £79k annual sum for child and spousal maintenance. The FDR is in 3 weeks time and unlikely to settle as there are various undisclosures.

Every last penny I had has been paying for legal fees, and it will cost me a further £25-35k to a Final Hearing in a year’s time. I simply have no choice but to carry on.

There must be so many people who have no choice but to give in.
Regards
Jennifer

Neil - April 21, 2010 at 9:32am

An interesting post from more than a year ago.

I hope you don’t mind me joining Jennifer, above, in resurrecting the discussion on this!

I wonder what the remedy could be.

It would be helpful to have some method where a Judge could record, at the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing, whether she or he felt that one party was adopting an unrealistic, tactical and unreasonable position, and perhaps give and record warnings on costs.

This could perhaps be done with a form, or FDR certificate, which is provided to the parties but not held on file, confirming or otherwise that the Judge believes the FDR has been conducted with appropriate openness, and readiness to settle, or has been used tactically.

That would focus the minds of the less realistic party and provide some evidence towards supporting a costs claim at a later date on the grounds of unreasonable conduct of litigation.

This could not be kept on the court file, in case it came to the knowledge of the Judge at the final hearing. The sanctity between the financial dispute resolution hearing and the final hearing require different Judges to hear each hearing and that should be preserved.

Or should it, I now wonder?

What would happen if, in such circumstances a Judge could make a finding that one party has sought to “game” the system, as you put it, and subsequently record such findings on the Court file itself to provide continuity through to the final hearing?

Would that inhibit tactically low proposals to settle?

Bearing in mind that proposals are meant to have been exchanged before hand, either party could give notice that they believe the other’s proposals are outside of the brackets of reasonability. Both parties and the court would then be on notice that this might be an issue. It becomes incumbent upon the recalcitrant settler to modify the offer beofre or at the final dispute resolution hearing or stand by his or her unreasonable proposal in full visibility copme the final hearing.

Without prejudice protection, after all, is to encourage and protect sincere attempts to settle. Why should it be allowed to be abused by the woefully inadequate, tactical, litigant?

Just some thoughts for debate.

Sion Burgess - July 3, 2010 at 7:49am

The system plays both ways. Bitter, revenge seeking spouses are equally as capable of gaming the system.

The bottom line is that the system is broken. There should be a defined outcome from which parties have to justify deviation, rather than this woolly system to which the outcome is wholly random and based upon where it is heard. The focus of knowing your outcome will be 3 years maintenance at x% will both discourage frivolous divorce and excessive litigation.

cherylprior - February 3, 2011 at 8:32pm

i have read your internet court appraisal relating to divorce. I find myself in a very similar sittuation. at the mercy of the courts.
I was married for a short while four years. I had a superior wealth to him but not only supported him financially and domestically now found that i may have to give hime half the substantial house i boughjt in total to him. Miller V miller case.
He did not contribute anything of capital and also procured a successful business because of my domestic and financial assistance. Whilst I understand in marriage each has to help each other in this situation he actually profits from the scenario. Surely this should not be the purpose of the court.
As you say at the FDR it was not possible to out forward facts regarding contribution merely negotiations towrds a settlement. It seems back to front. Surely at the FDR we should be able to put forward our claims regarding needs, compensation and contributions.

regards

cheryl prior

Lisa P - April 7, 2011 at 1:18am

Hi Marilyn, I also found your blog after searching ‘FDR’ and I’m so glad I did as I wasn’t aware of the ‘new costs rules’ and I don’t think my sister’s lawyer has ever explained this to her.
My sister fled her home after her husband violently attacked her and has been in hiding ever since.
There are no children and the only significant asset is a house.
My sister has asked for a 50/50 split of assets and debts, and though her husband has agreed (via email), his actions contradict this as he has found every excuse possible for not putting their house on the market.
She is effectively being held to ransom.
When she first sought legal advice, her lawyer advised that they may reach a point where it is not worth continuing with legal action as there may not be enough equity in the house to settle her legal fees.
Jennifer (above) is right when she says ‘There must be so many people who have no choice but to give in’.
I’m so angry and frustrated that a spouse or partner can do what my brother-in-law is doing and my sister just has to take it.
If she does nothing, she gets nothing, but doing something, i.e. proceeding with a FDR, may still yield the same result…Arrrgghh!!
Thanks for the insight.

CJLeeUK - July 6, 2011 at 12:24pm

The system definitely needs to be looked at and the loop holes closed!

A close friend of mine has just finished going through his fdr.

Basically, his ex has a part time job working 3 days a week. She has made no effort to find another source of income – this was also the case before the split and was a major contributor to the joint debt that they acquired. She stopped paying toward all of the joint debts as soon as he moved out 18 months ago. As a result, he has had to pay out significant amounts to ensure that his (and her) credit could remain reasonable unblemished to allow them both to get mortgages etc. She had a personal loan in her name which she put into debt recovery 10 months ago without telling him – because she couldn’t be bothered to increase her working hours to pay for it!!! But the result is that his credit has been adversely affected, as the mortgage is still in joint names.

All of the joint debts that he has had to pay by himself over the last year and half have not been taken into consideration when the decision was finally made – basically she got 50%!

How is that fair??? Surely he should have had a minimum of 50% + half of what he paid towards the joint debts over the last year and a half? Particularly as she was the respondent!

I am at the start of the whole process myself and I am not at all confident that the system is fair. Based on my friend’s experience and others I have read and heard about, I am tempted to be as unreasonable as I possibly can – that appears to be the way to go.

Too bad my ego won’t let me…

David - April 2, 2012 at 8:56pm

I too have been subject to an unscrupulous spouse playing a dirty game. The difference this time is that I am the so called wealthy husband. All through the process I have tried to negotiate a reasonable settlement and have attempted mediation with a qualified lawyer. This resulted in me making an offer where she received half the value of the assets (excluding around £100,000 of money in her name that she claims to be her fathers), half my monthly income and half the cash value of the pensions, but this wasn’t enough for her – she wanted more of the pension. I am 55, she is 48 and she claims that she cannot work more than 10 hours per week, whilst I work 50 or more. There is enough money to go round, but we are certainly not super rich so I see no reason why she cannot contribute more to the household income. We recently sold the family house and she has moved into a new house with no mortgage. On the other hand I have a mortgage on my new property and she refuses to release any capital from the sale of the matrimonial home so that I can repay my mortgage. I offered to meet her in December to discuss the settlement but she cancelled the meeting. Her solicitor confirmed in writing we would meet in January but again this didn’t happen. She has refused to meet in February or March and now has decided to apply for an FDR because I won’t meet her demands for interim maintenance! The one benefit is that she will have to pay her own costs for the FDR which in my opinion is entirely appropriate as she has one of the most expensive law firms in London, whilst I have a fairly modest lawyer who is determined to help keep the costs down. The situation I find myself in is that my spouse is making unacceptably high demands knowing that she has little to lose at an FDR, whilst I am concerned about the mounting legal costs and find myself in the position where after paying substantial interim maintenance and an unnecessary mortgage each month, I do not have enough to pay my own solicitors bills.

Marilyn Stowe - April 4, 2012 at 3:29pm

David
Why dont you suggest arbitration? An FDR may not produce an outcome, but will incur substantial legal costs.
Regards
Marilyn

"T" - April 20, 2012 at 7:17pm

Your information on the FdR was very educative. I am going through the same issue right now, I will be attending my FDR next week.
My ex works away and he has done this since 10years that we have been together. We have two kids, had a home, I stayed at home to care for the children, while he worked. He is well paid and has only paid me minimal amounts for months to cater for my two young kids. He has now withdrawn all the savings from the accounts and has not given any reasonable cause for doing that. Now he is threatening not to pay me anything. I have now had to accumulate a massive debt just to care for the kids and pay my blls, whilst he has none. I have been adviced that he would he may keep the matrimonia home because there is not equity on it and pay some spousal maintenance, but no provision of a secured accomodation for the children and myself.
How can that be? My worry is that he works in countries that the British law has no jurisdiction over. I am uncertain that he might for one reason or the other, stop paying for this, wher will htat leave me and the kids then.
What is the best advice you can give me in this matter? I am really worried. Thanks

Marilyn Stowe - April 20, 2012 at 8:57pm

Dear T
I’m sorry but you have given me insufficient information to advise you. I have no idea what your financial position actually is or that of your ex. However I assume you have a solicitor. Tell him or her what you have told me and make sure you obtain the advice you seek. Put it in writing. If I were you I’d make sure I was completely comfortable and finically protected going into my FDR and also fully aware of how an order can be enforced in the relevant jurisdiction. I agree with you it’s very important and its equally important that you have complete peace of mind.
Best wishes
Marilyn

'T' - April 22, 2012 at 8:09pm

Thank you Marilyn for your response. I do have a solicitor, but was told that if the law cannot cover the jurisdiction then I am stuck. My ex earns over 70k per annum and I am merely surviving by with a minimum wage, with a yearly income of around £7,000 and depend mostly on benefits, as my earning income is low due to my caring for the children.

He has threatened to go bankrupt, retained the matrimonial home, which was put up for sale, but he took it off the market, and it is assumed that he might be allowed to have the house. He only stays in the country 2-3months in a year.

I have asked about these enforcements in different countries, but not received any concrete answer. Although, I have insisted on my full instructions on the maintenance and other issues be tendered in court, I am uncertain of how it will go.
Another issue if he does not appear on the day or if he does and we did not arrive at an agreement, will the final hearing favour myself or him?
Cheers.

A - April 28, 2012 at 5:26am

Is there an appeal process that can be chosen after the FDR? I have just completed my FDR where I felt under pressure to give in to my ex because she has failed to provide information as to her earnings. I am employed in sales earning circa £45k whilst she is self employed showing £6.5K but drawing a wage on her business and in reality earning circa £30k but not disclosing this to the court or HMRC. She has walked away from all responsibilities of the joint home for 2 years which I have paid. I have made numerous offers which have all been refused and due to the costs and stress involved in trying to reach a resolution, ended up in hospital connected to an ECG. She is living with another partner – difficult to prove -taken a car loan in the meantime which she wanted me to pay and still does not have to pay any monies towards the house whilst it is bein sold. There are no dependants.

Marilyn Stowe - May 5, 2012 at 6:35pm

Dear A and Concerned Brother
Thank you for your comments. In both cases it would be in appropriate to advise without full details.
I can only refer you to the respective lawyers, who are in a position to reply to you both.
More generally I would say that it is not uncommon for one party to try and back out of a deal done at an FDR and usually it is not possible. Your own lawyer can advise. Readers have often been warned by me that unless they are 100% satisfied they shouldn’t settle and later regret it. They should always ask for time to consider an offer in the clear light of day.
As to the costs, the general rule is there will be no order for costs. Readers should note that the court expects to see open offers to understand the parties positions during the proceedings. Without prejudice offers are also still made as additional efforts to try and settle the case. Court ordered requests for disclosure should be promptly complied with and if demonstrated to be oppressive and irrelevant, potentially a costs order might be made against the party who unnecessarily incurred the costs of compliance.
Regards
Marilyn

Concerned brother - April 29, 2012 at 1:18pm

Marilyn, I found your FDR article very informative and also the link to “new costs rules” by David Hodson.

I am assisting my sister with her divorce and her FDR hearing was in February 2012. Following the FDR her barrister made a Calderbank offer to her husband (the Petitioner) which I now think is unusual after reading the article by David Hodson.

A final hearing is scheduled for June 2012. To date her husbands side has not responded to the Calderbank offer. Instead they have issued a further questionnaire even thought they have not made any discloures themselves (not even a single piece of paper) despite numerous requests from my sisters solicitors. My sister has made all her disclosures and proofs.

Could the fact that no disclosure has been received from the other side be the reason why a Calderbank offer was made rather than an open offer?

Her husband is playing a very dirty game and in an attempt to discredit her, has been pursuing untrue allegations that my sister is hiding money and earnings and is still involved in a small family business which she left 6 years before she and her husband separated. He hasn’t worked for over 4 years and is using Legal Aid wereas my sister is working hard to support her 3 children (with no financial assistance from her husband at all) and having to pay all her own legal costs.

I don’t think the FDR was of any benefit and my sister is now worried about her escalating legal costs with all the preparations now starting for the final hearing. I just hope that the law treats her fairly at the final hearing.

Rosewenn - June 21, 2012 at 2:14pm

Hope you can help with my query. Ancillary Relief forms received and husband has admitted living with another woman for almost 3 years and paying into her house (she owns). For those years I have paid all the bills he left me and all the household bills and supported our son who is now 18 and going to Uni. Can husband still demand 50% of our joint house and/or can any part of her house/property/wages be taken into account.

Tom - June 29, 2012 at 11:05am

It is interesting to see the angle taken by the article. My situation is average income husband facing wife on legal aid who has no incentive to settle as I have no money (just debts) and no assets and she has no money. The situation when facing people on legal aid is often worse than facing someone who can afford rich lawyers. Now after 18 months my wife has lost her legal aid funding – but as she has no money or assets – cost orders are meaningless even if ligitigation misconduct is proven. The stress of trying to work full time and pay legal fees and look after our 2 children has been enormous – but I get no help. Now I am representing myself and face this absurdly long time period till an FDR and final hearing. Ironically we had reached agreement at mediation until her solicitor got involved and called for more mediation. He then ignored me for 2 months, until I got a soliciotor. Her solicitor has failed to disclsoe information, failed to do things he agrees to and generally takes the piss. That this is funded by the taxpayer is an outrage. So now – we both are representing ourselves and costs seem meaningless to people with no money and limited understanding of how things work. The forms and guidance provided by the Court and Government are very poor.

Cathy - September 1, 2012 at 10:20pm

Can I bypass the FDR and go straight to a final hearing as I am sure my ex husband will not be willing to negotiate and it will be an utter waste of money ? The FDR is next week.

Many thanks.

Marilyn Stowe - September 2, 2012 at 8:04am

Cathy
Sometimes it is possible to by pass an FDR. The Judge may take the view at the First Appointment it will be worthless and order a full hearing but it’s not common.
Turn up and give it your best shot. Many people think an FDR will fail but are surprised by the case settling or if not by how much progress is made in clarifying all the issues.
Even if it doesn’t settle it might settle afterwards. A judge is good at working out who is being obstructive and may make comments that will sort out the problem.
Good luck.
Regards
Marilyn

Minnie - September 10, 2012 at 2:53pm

Dear Marilyn,

My First Appointment hearing was changed into a FDR and now a Final Hearing has been listed. I am a single mother of a 2 year old and am about to loose my income from employment at the end of the week. My ex husband earns at least 60000 pounds a year but has created a lot of dept after the divorce in the form of a loan. We were only married for 2 years. I do not live in the UK as I lost the right to reside after the Decree Absolute and in the country I live in I am required by law to seek spousal maintenance to cover the costs of benefits (anything below 900 euro’s of maintenace simply gets deducted off benefits, this includes child maintenance). Is there any advice you could give me to make sure a decent amount of spousal maintenace is given by the Judge. Unfortunately I cannot apply for legal aid nor can I afford a lawyer to go to court on my behalf. He also has been very reluctant to pay child support the past 6 months aswell. Regards Minnie

Marilyn Stowe - September 10, 2012 at 3:06pm

Dear Minnie
Thank you for your question. Legal Aid is available to pursue an application in this country, so presumably you do not qualify on financial grounds ie too much income or capital or both?
As for your current situation, I cant comment because I havent seen your Form E nor that of your former husband.
The court has power to make capital and income orders, and it will do so based upon both parties financial needs and their obligations and responsibilities. The court will consider what steps the parties should take to increase their own income and also the length of the marriage and the ages of the parties.
Do make sure that everything that was ordered to be done at the first hearing has been done, eg production of any documents and valuations and read through Section 25 Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 itemising your arguments in relation to every factor which is set out to present to the Judge in support of your case explaining what you want and why.
I hope this helps
Best wishes
Marilyn

Minnie - September 10, 2012 at 3:17pm

Thanks Marilyn,
I do not qualify for Legal Aid unfortunately. All the paper work was sorted out before the First Appointment. I guess my question really is, are there any requirements that I need to do and how do I prepare for the Final Hearing?

Thanks in advance, Minnie

Marilyn Stowe - September 10, 2012 at 5:08pm

Dear Minnie

In preparation for the final hearing, it is important to comply with the directions made at the FDR and make sure all relevant documents are in order and up to date.

I must stress that preparing for a final hearing is a lengthy process even for a solicitor. As in your case, for a litigant in person, it is the responsibility of the other party who is not a litigant in person to prepare the bundle of documents and if possible the contents of the documents should be agreed by both sides before the final hearing takes place. In other words make sure you have been sent a copy of the bundle of documents to be used at the final hearing beforehand. The party preparing the bundle should provide this not less than 4 working days before the hearing irrespective of whether the contents of the bundle have been agreed.

You must also ensure that all documents you provide are up to date as at the date of the hearing. You will need to provide relevant financial documents (including tax returns) providing details of your incomings and outgoings, assets and liabilities. This will help the judge gain an understanding of the basic parameters of the financial situation. If there has been an agreement as the division of certain types of property (chattels) this should also be listed and included.

14 days before the hearing you are also required to fill out a Form H1 giving full and up to date details of all the costs you have incurred at each stage of the case. This is quite a lengthy and difficult process, especially for a litigant in person, so you can request the district judge to dispense this requirement due to the fact that you are without legal representation. However it is common place for you to provide the other side with an ‘open statement’ which sets out the orders you wish the judge to make including the precise amounts requested.

As has already been said previously, the final hearing will largely depend on the district judge you have presiding over the case. It will be held in district judges chambers and will be private. Many judges require proceedings to follow a set pattern, others are more informal. Some will even let the parties know what he has in mind at the start of the proceedings having read all their financial information. He may then invite comment and discussion before going on to hear the evidence and arguments of both sides.

You must bear in mind that negotiations should be carried out up to the last minute to try and resolve the financial matters without the need for a final hearing. Should the final hearing go ahead make sure all relevant financial information is up to date, has been disclosed and the orders you seek are clearly stated with the specific amounts noted down.
I hope this helps and good luck!
Best wishes
Marilyn

 

Anthony Bilmes - September 17, 2012 at 11:04pm

Dear Marilyn

There is an unavoidable tension between the Judge at an FDR and the role of mediator. One of the bars to a fair outcome is the fact that the Judge’s sketch of a likely litigated outcome frequently destroys the chances of a negotiated settlement. Good mediators should encourage parties and their advisers to seek a mutual solution not encourage them to adopt the mediator’s views.

The solution is to adopt the civil mediation model with its very high success rate, speed and economy and which can lead to a consent Order which the Court can be asked to approve on paper with no Court appointments at all.

Best wishes

Anthony

Anonymous - September 20, 2012 at 1:11pm

I read the blog regarding this issue with alot of interest. I’m personally going through a similar financial dispute in high court where i am the husband seeking a fair settlement.

What is underestimated and seems not to get talked about enough is the blatent manipulation and lies on their own form-e and unwilling to disclose or manipulate the truth. Even in the light of documentary truth which in many cases is under imerman ruling will the more wealthy partner seek to delay to financially destroy the less the weaker party.

In many cases unless you have really good representation then it would be a waste of time fighting a more wealthy partner because of the quality of lawyer/barrister. There are also parties which have relative wealth issues where both don’t sit on the poverty line as such but yet typical situation still remains a huge issue on costs.

The courts need to get grip of the changing economy and deal with these issues fairly regarding husband or wife equally.

My advice to a less fortunate party is to stick to your principles of “Seeking Justice”, this is the most powerful weapon you will ever have. You simply in your heart have to be in it for justice and not greed to wear this halo through a court case. Always remember that lawyers/barristers are working citizens of this country to and work for living.

Mrs S Logan - January 25, 2013 at 4:01pm

I and my ex have had the first appointment and have a date for the FDR. After the first appointment the court issued an order for the matrimonial home in which my ex lives and will not allow me access to be jointly marketed and sold. My ex is refusing to do this. We were married for over 40 years and both work although he is claiming he will have to retire on the grounds of ill-health. How will this be resolved if my ex continues to refuse to sell?

Marilyn Stowe - January 28, 2013 at 11:20am

Hi
In reality should this be a problem if an estate agent is doing the work? If it becomes a problem you can apply to the court to alter the position. Keep a log of all issues that arise.
Regards
Marilyn

Mrs S Logan - January 29, 2013 at 10:14am

This is a problem – despite the court order my ex refuses to allow an estate agent into the house to value it let alone put it on the market and the court has no power to compel him -possesion is 10 10ths of the law in this instance. As with all the stories on the blog the law is sadly lacking.

Marilyn Stowe - January 29, 2013 at 10:49am

Dear Sue
There is a lot the court can do if there is an order for sale. You can go back to court and ask for sole conduct of the sale explaining all the difficulties you are experiencing and how he is deliberately frustrating the sale. You can ask the court for specific further directions about the sale of the property, eg the appointment of your nominated estate agent and to order your husband to permit entry to the property of estate agent and potential purchasers. If he continues to be unreasonable you can apply for a penal notice and his commital to prison and even ask for him to be removed from the property.
Regards
Marilyn

Mrs S Logan - February 2, 2013 at 10:36am

Thanks for advice however all too expensive for me to follow. I echo the observations of the anonymous blog 20th September. Be warned there is little to no equality in financial dispute resolution & definitely do not be honest on the form.

Jarik - March 3, 2013 at 12:06pm

Marilyn,
Thank you so much for you blog. I wonder if you can give me a bit of advice.
Been married for 11 years and have an 11 year old child. Our only asset is our home which is now on the market as we both agreed to it. We were both unemployed for about a year but my ex husband now has a job and only started last month. I am still unemployed. We both have about £10 each of debts, separately.
We have both agreed to mediation and hopefully sort out the financial split before the FDR to avoid court fees.
We have agreed our child will live with me and my ex would see her every other weekend and as he wishes.
We have our FDR next month. My question is what is a fair split of the asset. It is probably going to be about 150k. He wants a 60/40 in my favour but I feel I should have more. I don’t think he has any other asset but to be honest I really don’t care and I am not asking for spousal maintenance. I am only going to ask for child maintenance. I hope to get a job when this is all settled. I have been overwhelmed with the divorce, hence the reason I have not been able to get a job.
Please advice.
NB
I incurred about £5k legal fees which are on my credit card. Can I ask for this to be paid as well from the sale proceeds.

Peter smith - April 13, 2013 at 6:34pm

I need to make a financial offer to my ex wife prior to final hearing. Any comments you can give on what a judge would see as an acceptable offer would be welcome.

Our case
We have a 7 year old son my wife took without the courts, her solicitors or my knowledge to live in 30 miles away. I see him half the holidays and alternate weekends.
There are 3 properties (FMH, my buy to let I had 9 years prior to marriage and meeting her, and a negative equity buy to let
-£20k)
The total ‘POT’ is about £330k

I was thinking of a 60 / 40 split

Proposed offer:
Half difference between pensions £16k approx
All equity in my flat from sale £125k approx
16k savings (Mostly derived from renting my flat)
Ex to keep her pension
Me to take on FMH (equity £116k)Where I still live that she left
Me to take negative equity property -£20k (rental income -£200 p/m)

She is a senior University lecturer/qualified lead youth worker and trained councillor and works 4 or 5 days a week.
She earns £2068 inc CSA & Child B.

Q: Will a judge see that I am trying to offer as much as possible and be reasonable?

Q: Can you point in the direction for advice on an acceptable split?

Q: Do you have any suggestions re acceptable split?

Marilyn Stowe - April 16, 2013 at 1:07pm

Dear Peter
Without full information I cant give you any specific advise. If thats what you want then I will need to see both Forms E and disclosure thereafter and you can arrange a telephone con with me but you will be charged for it.
Guidelines. Read Section 25 MCA 1973. Consider your respective reasonable needs in particular, housing and income for both of you and your son.
How do you split all the capital?
50/50 is a starting point but how is that impacted by needs?To what extent then can you sideline pre acquired assets?
Maintenance – Will you need to pay some to your wife and if so how much and for how long?
Regards
Marilyn

Ms Anonymous - June 18, 2013 at 11:05am

Dear Marilyn

I have not been able to give my proper name in fear of ex-husband monitoring my emails and stalking me. We have been divorced over a year and have a consent order in place for Global maintenance. He lived at the FMH for approx 2 years after i left, renting out all the spare rooms and saving a considerable amount of money. I had to wait till the FMH was sold to receive the equity to pay of marital debts and then my global maintenance was reduced to reflect my improved financial situation. I am in rented accommodation.

At the time of the consent order he was aware i would co-habit with my new partner in the near future. This happened 2 months after the consent order. I was not aware that he was in a relationship with one of his lodgers and he has subsequently married and bought a new house. On co-habiting I have lost my state benefits and so my personal income has reduced but i now share the bills with my new partner. I have 3 children and he has one so the fair split of the bills is 4/6ths from me and 2/6th from him. I am a self-employed designer.

My ex has had a rise in income from his job and now has additional income from his new wife. They have no children and only have my son over to stay. He applied for a variation to the consent order to reduce my maintenance at the beginning of the year He only pays for his son in line with what the CSA recommned. My 2 daughters are from a previous relationship but were under 18 months when i met my ex and they have had no contact with their biological father at all since they were 11months old. Approx 2 months after i left him and within 6 weeks of starting his relationship he has stopped all contact with girls. In my eyes they are children of the family and he should be responsible for them. They have taken his name legally but he never adopted them. Although we did start the process.

Since the divorce my ex has mounted up debts buying his house, getting married on credit cards etc (even though he had considerable income form the rental of 3 rooms in the FMH, whereas as i have paid my debts off, apart from a car and student loan, but live in rented accommodation. He has made his financial position look worse through his purchase of the house and wedding costs etc.

Does he have grounds to vary it down? His take home is £5000 net and I receive £600 per month in global maintenance. This is not an excessive amount. Are the girls children of the family as I believe they should be?

He has used his questionnaire, chronology and statement of issues to mud sling at me. It is approx 14 pages long. He has accused me of contempt for not filling out my form E correctly and makes wild statements about my behaviour and that I left him for another man.

Is the judge likely to look at this on the first appointment and see it for the sham it is. i have had some legal help making statements which has cost me hundreds of pounds. As I am looking after 3 kids and working full time I simply could not have done this on my own!.

Any thoughts we be welcome. In court tomorrow.

Observer - June 18, 2013 at 7:36pm

I am also beginning to think that in some cases, judges can be a little naïve when spouses decide to play to a dirtier game. This can happen when a wealthier spouse – and let’s say it is the husband, because it often is – makes his wife a deliberately low offer. For example, he may try to obtain a clean break rather than an agreement to pay maintenance, even when a clean break would be a highly unlikely outcome in court.

Let’s add to that sexism and talk about all the wives that abuse children in money games.

Or better yet, we can take sexism and lawyers out of the equation altogether, and work on developing a more humane society.

Jim - October 8, 2013 at 12:51pm

Oh Dear, I’m glad and then not for having found this site, I am having to attend an FDR in 2 weeks time, the thought has made me despondent and I was looking for some inspirtaion in going forward down this route, I might add that I’m the ex husband and my ex lives in the FMH I divorced her on UB, and for the past 2 and half years tried to reach a financil solution, basillcay it started off 75% – 25% in her favor for a clean brake, (there are no children from the 6 year marriage) there are 2 properties ..the FMH which we went joint on where there was about 100K in equity in her favour and a holiday home paid for by me but in negative equity to about 25k with more to pay off! so my settlement was, I take the holdiy home debt and then half the equity gained in the FMH since going joint on the mortgage. My Solitictor fees so far have been 15k, whislt she had not bothered for a year to obtain one, she didnt bother with a fully complete and a sworn Form E (before this one) changed bank account information and contract information (ie fraudulenty using my signature) denied me access by changing the locks to the FMH , slated me monthly on social media, and subsequently refused to settle when I have dropped my consideration in the FMH equity 3 times ( to end things,before going to court) I did warm my solictor that even 50/50 would mean she would have to have 51 and me 49. However as my costs have risen to the point of basically anything I get will now go straight to pay the debts off, I am just worried stupid about moving forward. Fortuantel I have met and am engaged to someone who’s own divorce was very simple and we now have a child between us. but living in rented accom and hand to mouth with mounting court costs is having a detremental effect. I think it would be a lot easier if the judges decisison was final! and you had to compy as i can see she will go for the Final hearing just to drain me to the point of giving up..

Name Witheld - October 22, 2013 at 5:40pm

I am divorced.My child (14) chose to live with me in the FH.I am going as a LIP.I owned the home pre marriage.I am 73 my wife is 43.She has sent nearly £20,000 back to her home country.She was abusive and controlling for ten years.We have had SS.Police a number of times.She lives elsewhere now.My wife works and earns £1000 a month.I am on State pension only and have no other income or assets or income.She wants 80% of the house and lump sum.Her Solicitor tells me the abuse is irrelavant and is asking for costs against me too.Is it irrelevant ?I am asking for a Martin Order to come into effect when I die when she gets 20%.Is this realistic? My hearing is next january.

Marilyn Stowe - October 25, 2013 at 5:46pm

Dear Name Witheld
I think you are a prime candidate for a Martin order but it will depend on the equity in the property and whether the two of you (you and your child) and her, can be reasonably rehoused out of it. What do YOU and your child need in terms of income and capital? Have you worked it out? have you applied to the CSA for child support?
Please download my book from the side bar for much more information about what you can do. Put aside what she wants and the threats, and concentrate on what you and your child need in terms of income and capital requirements. Then go for it.
The court doesn’t make costs orders except in the most extreme cases. Is yours one of those? Are you ignoring correspondence court orders and so forth? If so, stop now and get going. Go and see a solicitor and find out exactly where you stand. Let me know if I can help further.
Regards
Marilyn

Sally - November 18, 2013 at 1:44pm

Hi there,
Thank you for your blog. Please could you give me some advice if possible.
I’m going to financial proceedings and I am waiting on him filling in his form E which is already late. He declared bankruptcy on PURPOSE in Dec 2012 and will be discharged in Dec 2013. There are 2 properties involved, the trustees are involved and the house I’m living in with my 5 year old also accomodates my mum who has a lifetime interest in the property. Its very complicated. I am trying to delay the repossession on the house as Financial Proceedings will very soon commence. I do believe he has hidden all his money. He is still living in rented accomodation and has rented out the other property, but will not pay anything towards the house where his son lives.
He also has a business.
What would the likely scenario be at a final hearing?
Will court make us homeless?
thanks

Marilyn Stowe - November 18, 2013 at 4:14pm

Dear Sally
Its never easy advising someone where there is a bankruptcy involved because whilst bankrupt your husband no longer has control over his income and capital assets. They are controlled by his Trustee in Bankruptcy.
The situation is complicated, the properties are subject to various claims and it is crystal ball gazing to ask me what is going to happen. I don’t know what the Trustee is doing right now, what he is trying to achieve for the creditors and although you say your husband went bankrupt on purpose, you don’t tell me who the creditors are and how much is owed to them nor exactly how the Trustee is going to get them paid. If it means selling the property in which you are living then the life interest of your mother needs dealing with, as does your and your child’s right to stay for a year- but is that year coming to an end and is the Trustee then going to press for a sale? I don’t know if you took legal advice about the bankruptcy, but you and your mother with her life interest, certainly need to do so now to examine the situation and to see if some deal can still be done. I think you both should arrange to quickly see a solicitor who has knowledge of family law and the impact of bankruptcy for further advise.
But supposing you issue proceedings against your husband as soon as he is discharged from bankruptcy and there is available income and assets:-
I think the court will first consider the life interest in the property of your mother the reasonable needs of your 5 year old, and your reasonable needs. The court will want to know about income of both of you and your respective capital as it is when the bankruptcy comes to an end. The court will certainly wish to see you and your child housed and properly maintained if at all possible.
Going bankrupt does not end your claims against him.
Regards
Marilyn

Marjorie - November 19, 2013 at 4:55am

Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on this blog loading?

I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the
blog. Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

Andrew - November 19, 2013 at 12:45pm

The practice of not ordering parties to pay each others’ costs is a weapon in the hands of the tough and greedy, not the unscrupulous – and the two are not synonymous. It deprives Without Prejudice offers of any meaning. Why take a good but not ideal offer when you might get a bit more if you fight on?

The knowledge that if you don’t “beat the offer” you will lose a big bite of it in costs works in p.i. to restrain litigation a l’outrance, and it worked in matrimonial until it was stopped. It should be brought back.

Blanca - November 20, 2013 at 1:06am

Thanks for sharing your thoughts about divorce. Regards

G - November 27, 2013 at 12:48am

What about when your ex works for a firm of solicitors and has free representation!

I am trying to do what’s right but as my ex has no costs to pay she can argue and refuse offers as long as she likes.

I have been the main payer of childrens costs over their lives but have now had to pay over £20k in solicitors fees so far(I guess at this rate my final costs will be £40k +).

We are not married and she fails to agree to anything because it costs her nothing to do so, the money I have spent would all go to the childrens welfare but she fails to realize this.

I despair of the whole situation, every penny she costs me she feels is a win despite this being to the detriment of her own children.

I have made offer after offer and curiously her counsel has listened but not even come back with any comment. Watching my children live in limbo whilst barristers get on the job training seems cruel and unfair.

I do wonder about the legal system in this country and some of the people that operate in it!!

John - December 8, 2013 at 6:04pm

Dear Marilyn,

I read this article about FDRs with interest, particularly the part where you say ” The court can merely conclude the FDR and make orders for the case to head for a final hearing.” At my FDR a few months ago there was not agreement reached but directions were discussed. My wife had been claiming difficulty before the FDR in working/finding work and we sought an order to allow a report from our medical expert. Her barrister consulted with her and advised the judge that “she was fit for work, just nothing too stressful” which was fair enough, and so the judge did not allow us our expert. A few weeks before the final hearing she then produced a letter from her doctor saying she would not be fit for any work for another year at least. I was told by my solicitor that because the FDR was without prejudice we could not mention at the final hearing what my ex said about her ability to work at the FDR. This seems bizarre to me as we and the judge relied on what she said in [not] making his direction and so basically I was left up the swanny! Do you agree that even the directions making part of the hearing is without prejudice and if you cannot advise could you possibly refer me to where I might find the practice direction etc on this to research myself? Best Wishes, John

Marilyn Stowe - December 8, 2013 at 6:20pm

Dear John
If an FDR fails, the hearing moves from taking place on a “without prejudice” basis to being open and that is when directions for the final hearing are made.
See this very useful guide:-http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/JCO%2FDocuments%2FFJC%2FPublications%2Ffjc_financial_dispute_resolution.pdf
Regards
Marilyn

Bobby Y - January 22, 2014 at 11:38am

My wife’s father has passed away since the divorce proceedings began, I have FDR hearing within 4 weeks, and I believe she would have been left monies within her fathers will, but she has not declared it.
How can I find out the information or what do I do next, I am representing myslef.
thanks

Marilyn Stowe - January 26, 2014 at 1:26pm

Dear Bobby
You need to write to her and ask for a copy of his will and he amount of his estate and details of her expected inheritance. If she won’t provide it (she can certainly produce a will and the solicitors should be able to produce details of a rough schedule of assets by now) you should make an application to the court for her to produce the information but if it isn’t readily available and you think it is likely to be a large sum of money and will materially affect the outcome then you could ask the court to adjourn until the information is produced. Take legal advice.
Regards
Marilyn

Frechy - January 29, 2014 at 10:49am

Hi Marilyn

I’ve had my initial meeing and am have the FDR in March. Could you clarify a couple of points please:
My ex has dismissed her solicitor and is now acting for herself. She has already posted on a social media site that she intends to take it to a final hearing. You mentioned in an earlier post that because she is unrepresented that the cost of drawing up all the papers would be down to me because I am paying for a solicitor, is this correct?
In our proposals to each other up to now we have both proposed a clean break after the child maintenance payments would stop, could a judge decide in spite of neither of us suggesting it that spousal maintenance be paid?
And finally, my ex is trying to claim child maintenance until my youngest son leaves university is this acceptable?

Cheers in advance of any advice.

Marilyn Stowe - January 29, 2014 at 3:53pm

Dear Frechy
You are paying for a solicitor to advise you – ask your lawyer! I provide this small service for people who don’t have lawyers, not those who do. I’m toughening up now because I’m getting inundated with requests for help.
Regards
Marilyn

Shell - January 29, 2014 at 4:57pm

Dear Marilyn
I was hoping that you could give me some advice please. In 5 weeks time I’m in court for the FDR. I’m having to represent myself as cannot afford legal advice since having my legal aid cancelled due to being reassessed, he shows up with a barrister and a solicitor. The respondent is still refusing to offer me a settlement due to the fact ny name is not on the mortgage. We cohabited in 1999 then married in 2001, separated in 2010. I moved out of the marital home as he refused and needed my sanity! We have a £85.000 mortgage and the home is worth £190.000. Because of my debts and low income I cannot get a mortgage or afford to pay a financual advisor to see if I’m edgiable to buy shared owenership etc. I have no pension his pension is worth £320.000 and is being valued to see what my share is. My ex earned £38.000 last year while I earn £11.500. I pay £675 rent he pays £65.00 p/m interest only mortgage. What I would like to know is will I be entitled to 50% of equity only I’ve been told to get a mortgage as he’s going to say I can’t buy a home so don’t need to 50% equity and he should just give me a little share. I will owe a big legal aid bill as we’ve just finished children’s proceedings and we both have big debts. I’m unsure how to put my case forward so I get a fair outcome. He will also be in receipt of a very large sum of money in 2015 from the share scheme he does with work which he opened while we were still together. Any advice to help me would be appreciated. I’m finding the paper work difficult and don’t know what I need to go to the FDR. I’m not asking for more than I’m entitled to just a fair split. Thank you

Marilyn Stowe - February 1, 2014 at 9:02pm

Dear Shell
A number of barristers have direct access schemes. I think you should focus on your reasonable needs and how those can be met rather than worrying about what he says. Ignore him. Pay a barrister to go to court to represent you at the FDR and include the cost into your reasonable needs. I don’t know enough about your case to give you more detailed advice.
Regards
Marilyn

T - January 31, 2014 at 7:01am

Continuing from ‘name witheld’.
I only have a State Pension.Also get CSA and CTC. The house is not worth enough to sell and get sufficient equity to house both parties. I am too old to work (74) my wife is 45 ,works and has a good future.But neither of us have an income to allow us a mortgage. I owned the home before marriage and have invested all my capital into it. My wife has secretly sent over the last two years £8,000 to her country.Prior to that I knew she sent money back to build a house and support family.About £10,000. My wife has been abusive(threatened our 14 year old daughter she would kill herself) She has had to leave the FH and live elsewhere due to the distress this caused.But claims I ‘forced ‘ her out.Though the Police in reality made this suggestion.
With the lack of ,income,prospects and future for me I am trying to get a Martin Order till I die,when Ive offered her 25%. Domestic Violence was not allowed,not ‘extreme ‘ enough.Even though I had Police logs and SS reports of bullying to me.The first money sent abroad (£10,000) not considered as I ‘knew’ about it. Am I being realistic as I can see little room to negotiate or vary my offer?

nickyj - February 6, 2014 at 11:57pm

Marilym. I have an FDR in 1 week. My husband has insisted on having 50% shared care of the children which I agreed to nearly 2 years ago because I took a better paid job 2 weeks after we split up. Before this I worked part time and on half what I earn now but I took a great job on double the money because I felt I had to. I had an affair and the reason I did was because I was in a terrible financial situation after I had had 5 years off looking after children and he didn’t support me at all during my time off work. I was desperately unhappy. I couldn’t afford to take the risk of sitting on my crap salary and expecting him to pay for me, so I took the job and have earned the same amount as him for the last 18 months. He has turned my family and friends against me and told them all that they will have to testify in court as to what a wonderful person and husband he is and what a horrible person I am. I never divulged the terrible marriage I had because I am too proud to do that and as a result I have experienced extreme vitriol and a lack of support from good friends. He has offered me 50% of the capital from the house and nothing else because I do 50% childcare. He farms the children out to women locally to maintain his 50% and is looking for a clean break (he is 4 years younger tha me and has a huge inheritance possibility) I cannot afford a custody battle for the children as I have substantial debts from the 5 years I had off work looking after the children so I have focussed on getting enough money to at least move forward. I need to at least be financially viable to manage the care arrangements (I earn slightly less than him now but due to my committments in my 5 yrs off, looking after children I ran up lots of debts and in my early years back to work I ran up debts because I paid for ALL childcare, ALLgroceries and all children’s activities while he paid mortgage and utility bills around half the value of what I was paying). He also managed to save towards an Isa, he has a big car and he has a massive final salary scheme pension, neither of which he will share.. At the end of my tether….. Please help. I have a lovely lawyer but I need to hear the reality.

Nattyw - February 9, 2014 at 1:03pm

I was married for 11 years, we had been going out on and off for 8 years before. We have 3 daughters, 15, 13 & 6. We separated due to his infidelity and his financial recklessness, 4 years ago and he has dragged his feet, refused provide his income or any detailed financial information throughout these last 4 years. The fdr is next week and I am dreading it. I work full time, juggling after school clubs and flexible working to look after my daughter’s. My ex lives with his new partner, works for himself and has lied throughout this whole process. He does not pay any child maintenance and I am struggling to get any money him through the new CSA . As iam employed all financia, disclosure cannot be amended unlike his. I have spent £14k so far and yet I dont hold much hope for next week’s hearing. He is asking for 50% of the house, my pension, and for meto pay 50% of his debt. He lives a cash existence and his mum who is also his boss supposedly pays for his rent, council tax,porsche and most other expenses, his girlfriend pays for all food. He has never contributed to a pension, is 42 years old and I am struggling to understand how someone who refuses to contribute towards his children, now wants 50% of everything ?? I haven’t asked for anything apart from child maintenance and just want this divorce over with as I cannot afford anything more.

Anon - February 9, 2014 at 10:34pm

You have asked for something. You have asked for child maintenance. You have also asked for over 50%. Basically, like my ex, you are saying, why doesn’t he just do what you want him to do.

The crime here, and I do have sympathy, trust me, I do (been there myself) is that the lawyers cannot sort it out in a more cost efficient manner.

The other crime is also child maintenance without fault, i.e. that some men pay to have their children taken away from them when they have done nothing wrong. Although that is perhaps not an issue here, these are the two massive issues with this subject, divorce and separation. If you resolve these two then you have a lot less upset people moaning about lawyers and government, myself included.

To be positive, I think these 2 issues are being resolved, through no small help from the Taliban and the shutting of the CSA and the introduction of pre nups.

For yourself, I would say as Marilyn would, you need to bite the bullet and get it dealt with as efficiently as possible. I do agree it should not cost as much as it is – been there, not good.

JamesB - February 10, 2014 at 3:20pm

Just read this. It is not always the man. My ex took this approach also. Admittedly it was her father behind the scenes, but still, in my case it was the wife. I had two options when faced with growing costs, either do it myself or go further into debt. I did it myself.

It cost me more to do it myself (and arguably lose) then pay for legal advice and get a better settlement. It is sad that money spent on legal fees is the best judge on how you will do in court.

JamesB - February 10, 2014 at 3:21pm

With Ancillary Relief it seems to be the side who spend the most get what they want more often. For example, Paul McCartney.

JH - February 24, 2014 at 9:02pm

Your statement above is exactly me. A silly low offer and the want to litigate to the end, me out of money and about to represent myself at the FDR. What can I do to make sure that I get at least enough to pay the bills, I have a small son and have found it difficult to find any work which would leave me funds after child care costs. husband who works offshore and hides funds. Something must go in my favour?

N - March 6, 2014 at 12:58pm

Hi Marilyn

Can I go straight from a FDR to the final hearing.

I spilt with my husband last year – domestic violence had court order. Court order fininshed in December and he evicted me from the house I live in, property developer, changed locks moved in, currently going through residency order as one child of 4 with me.

Both solicitors agreed to change fdr hearing in jan as he was not ready, letters sent to court, he was very sly and went to court on the date of fdr hearing and changed dates for from E exchange and chronology to concide with residency hearing in may, intentionally lied to judge I preassume. Now trying to get date moved earlier, can I get this done and go straight to final hearing, as no access to accounts or house and the house he gave me if not fit to live in, awaiting for repairs by him but being awkward. Would they fat track due to my circumsatnces as currently sleeping with child on living floor for last two months?

Derek - March 12, 2014 at 7:34pm

Reading many of the above reply s on this forum, it would appear that many of you are women who are the victims of a ruthless spouse. However as a man, I am now finding myself in a similar position where I am taking my ex wife to court for ancillary relief. My ex was a bully and has compounded this by not only bad mouthing me to friends but also to my 3 children whom I’ve had little contact with in the 2 years since our separation.

Anyway, my ex agreed with me the terms of our financial settlement and it was agreed that in exchange for a reduction in the equity of our home that she would leave my pension alone. She was adamant that she dealt with this herself and proceeded to form the draft consent order several months before our divorce in May 13. By then she had already submitted the order, and even though I got sight of the order prior to her submitting it, it later transpired that not only had she inflated my earnings, but had reduced hers by not disclosing all of her benefits, CSA or pension CETV. Thus making it look like I was much better off than her. By this point, the judge hadn’t stamped the order but instead queried ‘how is the order fair?’ and ‘Why is there no pension sharing order?’ Only my ex took this as the judge has said its not fair and I need to have your pension too!. She never responded to the judge and just buried her head in the sand choosing to ignore me altogether. This was June 13, but she had already taken ownership of the house in April 13. So this was lodged with the land registry even though no money had changed hands.

In the end I instructed a solicitor to act on my behalf and to apply to the court for ancillary relief. My ex ignored every letter my solicitor submitted to her, forcing me to apply to the court. More expense!!

We have now exchanged form E’s in March 14 and after filtering through with a fine tooth comb, I have now discovered that my ex is filtering money off into a minimum of 11 other accounts which she has not disclosed. I have discovered a pension that is worth in excess of one and half times what mine is worth. She has assets which have not been disclosed and also the statements she has submitted are summaries and not actual statements.

She also has the house and is laying it on thick with regard to her disabilities and her everyday needs which I know to be crap. Her means sheet shows that she is spending around £200 more than she is earning per month which is still twice my net wage per month. She hasn’t added any CSA payments or pension payments to her total income. The form is a complete mess and it worries me that when we go court I will still not have had the relevant information, meaning the first hearing will be a waste of everyone’s time and my money as I have representation and she doesn’t.

I’m already in debt and most of the money owing on my CC are solicitors fees which are constantly mounting up.

And now I’m worried that she will play the disability card and I won’t see a penny of what’s been previously agreed by us and has previously gone in front of a judge.

Am I wasting my time? I feel like chucking the towel in.

So now you see it isn’t always the man. But I don’t want this to go to final hearing.

Derek

lb - May 24, 2014 at 6:04pm

hi, i am divorced from my husband and living with my new partner, just started self employment on low income. My ex husband is in our marital home still with my two children under 18, as i had to move some distance away to cope with life and his pressures. I have made an offer of signing the house to him, work 200K but 70K mortgage with time to run and an endowment that if left would still only pay around a 1/3 of mortgage. I have old work pensions worth approx £80 more than his personal pension that was funded from joint income. He is represented i am not, and we both left the house with similar cash capital and have similar debts except a few thousand for items he has but debt in my name. I am due to have an fdr in a few weeks and need to account for the sums i have spent from the capital i left with (same amount as him), and my offer was refused as he wants all house (i have not paid mortgage for 15 months as no income), half my pensions and half endowment . I want to go to a final hearing as i fail to see how i can come off worse than what i wanted which was just the spare endowment money (10% of house value) after my debts for his stuff was cleared.

Karen - May 26, 2014 at 10:10pm

Is has been enlivening to read all the comments. I am desperate for advice. I have my FDR in 6 days…it has taken nearly 4years to get to this point. I moved out of the matrimonial home as I was unable to stay with my husband…very controlling, manipulative. My stress and anxirty levels became so high in the last 6 months I had to taken anti depressants which I still take because I stll shake so much.
My ex claims that the money is his..I came to marriage with nothing therefore any offer of settlement shld be deamed as v generous. There is approx 1.4m, two properties no mortgages, and v healthy pension..his not mine. I had our 2 children and worked part time with v low wage…he earned around 130k….. I have asked for 50/50 split, ring fencing his pre relationship pension.,. But he will only give my home 350k and 63k with no pension ….my solicitor is v vague and (3rd – 1st rubbish, 2nd went on maternity leave) my faith is rapidly reducing unlike my costs..currently 30k …
Any advice will be received geatefullu

Elaine - May 28, 2014 at 3:06pm

Hi – Please advise if I can appeal a Final Divorce Hearing Order made yesterday and if further legal aid would be granted beyond the Final Hearing, due to the following:- I had made increased offers to my ex-husband up to £20,000 so I could remain in the FMH and for him to remove his name from it. He has been residing with a friend in a rented house for in excess of 2 years 8 months after assaulting my adult daughter and granddaughter, when he was removed by the Police from the FMH. He had been seeking an Order for the property to be sold so he receive a 50/50 share, after the remainder of the outstanding mortgage of £46-47,000 was paid.

At an earlier Hearing the District Judge presiding stated her leanings were that I should be allowed to remain in the property and her views would be indicated to the Final Hearing Judge. She made a suggestion, I offered £20,000 as this was the figure required originally by my ex in order that he move into a Retirement Home due to his health at that time. (He since changed his mind and wants to rent privately.) Consequently I sought and received a firm offer for Equity Release for a lifetime mortgage which clears the remaining mortgage, allowing me to live mortgage free for life, whilst providing £13-14,000 cash to pay my ex and with a topped up loan from my Bankers, I could raise the offered sum of £20,000.

At yesterday’s Final Hearing, which had been moved to a different Court, only a Relief or Floating Judge was available, Despite my being questioned by this Judge as to whether I could definitely pay the £20,000 and having documentation to support this, he has made an Order for me to pay £42,000 to my ex within 3 months or the property must be sold and split 50/50. Upon my enquiring afterwards of my Barrister whether this Judge would have seen the indications of the previous Judge, she stated he would have not.

The background is that at commencement of marriage in 1974, my husband moved out of his parents’ home into my Council rented property. Then in 1987 after my daughter’s ex-boyfriend tried to set fire to the house, I decided it was safer to move out of the area and consequently purchased the FMH with funds from a voluntary redundancy package, used for deposit, fees etc. Although reluctant to move to the area I chose, but because he had nowhere else to go, my husband was added as Second Mortgagee (being in a lower paid job). Within 2 years he left his employment and did not seek further employment or benefits. Consequently I paid the mortgage, household bills etc until circa 2005 well after he received his State Pension, when he was persuaded to make a contribution towards the bills.

At the outset of the divorce process (which he commenced), I was informed that as it was a lengthy marriage of over 37 years, contributions would not be taken into account. Likewise I was also informed ‘behaviour’ could not be taken into account as it would be lengthy and costly. I had provided to the Court Police Toxicology Reports from 2007-8 where they considered I was being poisoned through food cooked by my husband. To my regret, I prevented the Police from arresting him because he had just had a triple heart by-pass and I was scared that failure to find evidence, would exacerbate his anger he showed at that time. Because I called off the investigation, this matter also could not be used in the Divorce Court.

Andrew - May 28, 2014 at 5:35pm

Well, well, Elaine, so the judge leaned more toward equality than the DJ did . . . how dreadful.

Suse - June 3, 2014 at 11:03pm

Hi Marilyn, I would appreciate a little bit of advice as I am a LIP, background is marriage 16 years together co-habiting 18 years, two children aged 18 and 15 discovered husband’s affair and we split. last August. Definitely couldn’t afford that much help other than have a solicitor look through my Form E who felt that I had completed it well. My ex husband to be did pay for solictior’s help for the Form E but is otherwise also acting for himself. At the FDA the District Judge said he was giving us more help than would normally be offered at this stage due to the fact of us both being un-represented briefly gave a few opinions to us, that with regards to the equity in the property it would be split 50/50 with equity being around the £140,000 mark, but as my husband has a pension pot of £200k and mine is only £28k there’s a difference of £176k which would also be split 50/50 with something taken off this amount to give it a tangible offset amount against his share of the house. He then said that nothing had to be paid for oldest daughter as she was going to uni and was 18, but as our youngest is just 15 I would probably stay in the home for the next 3 years. He also said that my ex would be looking at lifetime spousal maintenance as it is a long marriage. Finally he wanted to find out his living arrangements with new partner, and it was agreed that this question that I raised in my questionnaire should be answered by ex as she is older and employed and with no dependents.

My questions are these before return for the FDR in July

Although the judge mentioned the 50/50 share of the equity of the FMH when I saw a solicitor for a free half hour appointment he felt it would be a share more in the region of 65/35 before offsetting applied to the equity division, could I raise the point in my case that as I have full responsibility and day to day care of our teenagers their father now lives nowhere near them, that this is a natural reason to ask the court to move away from equality in this area?
2nd question when offsetting pension for equity in the house the judge decreases this amount to give it a cash equivalent, would it be reasonable to say that this shouldn’t be more than around 25-30% ? Finally, ex husband did answer my questions about his contract of employment and reduction of salary by £15k only 1 month after separating as I thought this was suspicious behaviour, however, since that letter he has confirmed he has another job now but won’t tell where it is and how much he is earning and other benefits given, I have advised the judge about this and said he should tell me relevant changes, just as I did at the FDA as I basically gave up my part time fledgling beauty therapy business, and managed to find myself a full time job with a local building society, and started this just two months ago. I am proud of what I have achieved throughout this sorry process and never thought I would be in this position having to fight for the joint benefits of our marriage. I sadly didn’t protect an asset I had before marriage, as I had a house with equity when I met my husband, and at the time he had just returned from Australia from his first marriage with no money and no job. oh well live and learn, I’d never make the same mistakes again though, will never put anyone else on my deeds !!

JQ - June 28, 2014 at 8:53am

Hi there

My partner is currently waiting for the first hearing of an FDR. His wife managed to adjourn the first one…we had specially returned from the UK for this and is was ‘adjourned’ at the 11th hour. It is now imminent in a day and so far his lawyer has not received her chronology or questionnaire…she has not been in touch and has instructed a ‘forensic accountant’ to act on her behalf…can he represent her at the first hearing? our lawyer is very suspicious of this person as he has not even made contact with my partners lawyer? the wife has no lawyer working on her behalf and has behaved inappropriately towards my partners solicitor…they will no longer allow her in the building! The children are 22 and 20 years old and she is demanding money and provisions for them as well as spousal maintenance for her along with the house ( worth 700k) we are starting again in our mid fifties and he is only asking for half the equity in the marital home…she has a huge potential inheritance due but wants to bleed him!! If she is difficult in the hearing and non compliant re providing info will this go against her? My partner stayed in an unhappy marriage for 24 years and only left when the children were 19 and 21…..does he stand a chance not to have to give her what she wants? She can’t afford the house as she only works part time and the children live there paying no contribution even tho they are working full time? it is often very unfair on the man n many divorce settlements…… HELP!!!

SM - July 29, 2014 at 4:52pm

Marilyn, my sister in law got married in Pakistan in January 2012 and came to the UK on a spousal visa in February 2013, she lived with her husband and in laws in the UK for 5 weeks but had to leave due to domestic violence. Due to this she got an ILR, the ex filed for divorce andd the decree absolute was finalised January 2014 so theoretically married for 2 years. She is currently studying to improve her english and receives job seekers. She has applied for Final order as during the 2 years she was not financially supported by her husband at all and her brother is supporting her at present with accomodation and food etc. Her Ex owns the familly home with the mum and dad around £125 is his share.
She is representing herself in the case as she/we can’t accord the legal costs and I have been her Mckenzie friend. She has the final hearing next week. She is looking for maintenance as she came to the UK thinking her ex would support her for life but left her hanging. Getting something from him so she can support herself until she can get a proper job. Looking at length of the marriage and her only living with him for 5 weeks and not having any financial contribution towards the household would she be entitled to anything from him. Will the Judge look at her cirsumstances and maybe reward her some maintenance.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

SM

Leave a comment