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familylawexpert
familylawexpert, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 311
Experience:  Substantial experience (14yrs +) in divorce, financial cases, cohabitation, pre-nuptial agreements and civil partnerships.
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my sister has been separated from her husband for 7 years.

Resolved Question:

my sister has been separated from her husband for 7 years. they have not divorced as yet and there are no divorce proceedings. they have two houses which they own jointly and they need to sort out when they divorce. our father died last year however and soon my sister will come into an inheritance of around £200k. how can she protect this money from her husband as it would seem unfair that he could have a claim on it?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  familylawexpert replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

My name is Mac. I can help you with your question. First I need a bit more information:

- how long were they married (including living together before the wedding) before separating?
- do they both work? If so, what do they and/or roughly what do they each earn?
- why have they not started divorce proceedings before now?

.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Mac


They married in 2000 and were living together for about 2 years before that. My sister no longer works she is aged 53. My brother in law earns about £50,000. Neither of them wants to make a maintenance claim against the other. They are happy to go their separate ways.


 


They just need to sort out the two houses. My brother in law is the named owner of one of the houses and it's worth around £250,000 after the mortgage is paid off and my sister is the named owner of the the other house which is worth about £190,000 after the mortgage is paid off. They regard these assets as joint assets. The two houses are currently rented out.


 


The reason they haven't divorced is that my sister has been trying to make it work and hanging on. They have lived together for a few months on a couple of occasions over the last 7 years but not for over a year now. My sister doesn't really want a divorce and she is avoiding the pain of of going through it.


 


But as my Dad died last July she is going to come into around £200k of cash in the next few months. Although her ex may not pursue this money I guess he could and may feel tempted. So the key thing is how to ring fence the money as they separated in 2007 and so it would seem unfair that he would get a share of that money.


 


Thanks for your help.


Steve

Expert:  familylawexpert replied 3 years ago.
Hi Steve,

The problem that your sister has got is that there can be no absolute guarantee of keeping it safe for so long as they remain married and there has been no financial order on divorce terminating the husband's claims.

The longer they have been separated, the more chance there is that post-separation monies can be ringfenced, but the extra information you provided above undermines the separation as being seven years.

She certainly should ensure that the inheritance goes into a separate account of her own, not one shared with him.

If they are going to remain separated but not get divorced, she could seek to get him to sign an agreement stating that they will make no financial claim on one another, but this would have to at least be accompanied by financial disclosure to each other, and ideally some legal advice for him, if it is to afford her any degree of protection at all.

In short, if they do not get divorced, she cannot definitely count on it being safe. If they cohabit again from time to time, it is even less safe. If she puts it into a joint asset (be it a bank account or a house) without an agreement in writing, it would be very much at risk.

I hope that is helpful. If you would like me to clarify anything, please ask. If not, I would be grateful if you could rate my answer.

Regards,
Mac.
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