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Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34105
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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First appointment - what happens in court?

Customer Question

I am very anxious about my divorce case coming to court.The first appointment is on Monday. My solicitor cannot attend as he has to go to a funeral so a colleague is coming instead. He says he will have briefed him on my case but I'm nervous that he won't know the full background.Should I be? Are there any things that might happen at the first appointment which my own solicitor would be better placed to address?My husband's solicitor is quite adversarial judging by the tone of his letters (uses the word 'unconscionable' in reference to my 'behaviour') so I am a bit nervous about what he will pull out of the hat.We have already submitted a list of Questions and to my husband's solicitor but havn't had his yet. Could this be tactical? If so, what advantage would it give them?Also, shall I speak to this substitute solicitor in advance? My solicitor has not suggested it but I would be more comfortable. Perhaps I should give him a call?I am so nervous about all this not least seeing my husband in the court room.Thanks for your advice
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is ***** ***** I will do my best to help you
Please try not to worry too much, it is not unusual for solicitors to cover cases in this way and will not in any way prejudice you
This is a First Appointment at which little is done unless both parties are ready and able to reach an agreement.
If it will help for you to speak to him beforehand then do so - and be sure to mention that you are anxious about being in the same room as your ex.
The fact that the other side have not yet provided their questionnaire speaks more of incompetence than tactics
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks Claire

At the hearing, which was quite lengthy and gruelling, my ex's solicitor raised the issue of selling our family home. The judge parked the issue saying it was not a good time to sell houses anyway.

He has ordered the FDR to take place in January to give us time to get an actuary's report on our pensions and for my husband to come up with missing documentation.

Can my husband raise the house issue again at the FDR?

His arguments (via his solicitor) are that he is paying rent (having left the family home) and I am not, so it's unfair. Also, that we won't know what the house is worth until it is sold. . I am not keen to put the house on the market until we reach financial resolution because he has been so slow and unreliable at producing paperwork it could take months and he needs an incentive to cough up the information. Besides, someone has to look after the house until it goes on the market and that might as well be me. All his personal effects are still in the house and he has made no effort to move them out. Also, there is a possibility I might want to buy him out (with a loan from my mother). Clearly I need to reach a financial settlement before I know whether I can do that.

Have I got a case or are none of my points valid? What is the benefit of selling a house before financial settlement? How would the judge see it?

Thanks for your help and advice.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
The point of the FDR is to allow negotiations guided by the opinion of the judge.
If no agreement can be reached the matter will be set down for the Final Hearing.
The Judge will not order the sale at that point unless you both agree to it - so even if your ex raises it it will not happen UNLESS you both agree that a sale is inevitable and worth doing sooner rather than later.
As I recall your children are also living in the property and you are paying the mortgage - so in fact all is fair for now.
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks.
I'm also considering buying my husband out of the house with financial help from my mum. I have kept this idea quiet as i think my ex will object strongly simply out of vindictiveness. He is obsessed with making me sell the house. At what point should I let this be known? I haven't told my solicitor either as I didn't want to muddy the waters or involve my mum.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
How much is the house worth and how much is outstanding on the mortgage?
What other assets and debts are there and what income do you each have?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The house is worth 600k and the remaining mortgage is 73k. Our joint pensions are worth 600k. We have about 40k in cash between us, that I know of. My husbands income is 77k with another 10k a year in consultancy money. Mine is 45k.
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
What is the pension divide and what is the actual issue between you?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My pension is worth 200k, his is worth nearly 500k.

By issue - do you mean children? We have a son (21) and daughter (27)

The issue we brought to court was to ask for nine outstanding pieces of financial information (tax returns, bank statements etc) and an actuarial calculation of the pensions

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Sorry - I meant what is the basis of the dispute between you given these figures?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

My solicitor believes I am entitled to a larger portion of the house value because it has been a long marriage and I gave up work for 15 years to follow his career and bring up children.

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
I see
has your solicitor put a percentage on that?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No he hasnt. He has said he hoped we'd get between 50 and 200k more. Should I pin him down? My sense is that he is reluctant to make promises
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
has he spoken about a pension sharing order?
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes he has and we are both in the same scheme so it should be relatively straightforward to transferHe also has a Dutch pension which we do not yet know the value ofHe has been speaking about divorce on and off for years (idle threats until recently) so there is a good chance he has hidden money away somewhere but my solicitor says it will be hard to track it down
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
I have to say that I think it is ambitious to think that you will get more capital AND a pension sharing order - so you will have to consider what works best for you
Clare
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Relist: Incomplete answer.
i'd like to know if I can ask to buy my husband out of our house once our financial negotiatios are complete with money I have borrowed from my mum. I don't want to disclose at the moment that I could do this in case it prejudices the settlement. It's a hypothetical question but I want to keep my options open.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Clare. I have to say I'm not expecting to get much more than a 50/50 split. But at the moment we don't know what the 50/50 is until my ex discloses his finances. That's the reason we've gone to court.

Going back to my original question: would it be possible once settlement has been reached to buy my husband out of our house if I wanted to? Either with an informal loan or a bank loan? Or am I forced to sell the house? The reason is that I am thinking about early retirement in about three years time and if I could hang on to the property until then and until my son finishes his studies that would be ideal.I don't want to disclose my thoughts at the moment in case it prejudices the settlement. It's a hypothetical question but I want to keep my options open. Grateful for your views....

Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Ho
My apologies for the delay
You can of course buy your ex out with money from your mother - there is nothing at all to stop you from doing so
Once the percentages have been agreed (and actually I think you will get better than 50% if you do not go for a pension sharing order maybe as much as 70% of the equity in the house) then if you can raise the cash you certainly do not have to sell the house!
Clare
Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Just one more thing. I inherited some money at the same time as my husband left. This I invested in urgently needed repairs to our house that were planned before he announced his departure. Can I ask for that sum (£25k) to be ringfenced?
Expert:  Clare replied 2 years ago.
Hi
Indeed you can - or if it works out better financially you can claim credit for the increase in value
Clare

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