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Ask Harris Your Own Question

Harris
Harris, Family Law Expert
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1769
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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My partner has told me she wants to separate from Me.

Customer Question

Hello, my partner has told me she wants to separate from
Me. I am devastated. We are not married, we have 2 children, an 8 year old and 1 year old. We own 2 properties jointly 1. We live in, value 1.3m mortgage 780k. 2. Our original cottage now rented for a while value 500k mortgage 320k.
We are still living in the main property, we are trying to put a front on for the children, we both want what's best for them, I want to be near them and fully involved in their lives.
I have a business with no income now and debt, I need to protect myself as well, what is the likely way forward in all respects, financially, child care etc
Thank you
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Hi, thanks for your question. I am a qualified family law solicitor.
Please could you confirm how the properties are held (joint names/sole names etc) and if there are any cohabitation agreements between you? But for general guidance, in the absence of any agreement asset division is as has been registered (so if property is in your name, legally they are yours only - however the children will complicate things as their interests need to be taken into account).
You obviously need to come to an amicable agreement with your partner regarding the care of the children and the first thing to think about is their accommodation and who will be their main carer.
Whoever is their main carer will likely want to remain in the family home with the children. If this cannot be done by agreement then whoever is the main carer can make an application to court whereby you and the children remaining living in the property, and once the youngest reaches an agreed age (eg. 16 or completes education), for the property to be sold and equity to be distributed between you and your partner.
Please let me know what your intentions are regarding children arrangements and I will be able to provide more information.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for your reply. The homes are in joint names. The family home already has arrears and if the interest rates go up, it would be utterly unfeasible to stay there, not least I have no current income.The children come first for sure, there has been discussion about selling the family home and extending the cottage to make it 3 bed (currently 2) then remaining money from the sale of the family home to pay off the mortgage on the cottage and anything left after that to be divided (I hope).Is this realistic or normal practice? It was only as a result of my past achievements that any of this was possible. I had paid the mortgage on the family home and bills, plus paid a big chunk of the deposit, I assume that counts for nothing? What about debts built up as a result of our lifestyle but in my name? Are they mine?If they move in to the cottage (extended) do I have to pay further maintenance? How would that be agreed/calculated and what happens to the 300k of mine that is tied up in the cottage as a result?I know this sounds mercenary, I don't want it to, but I'm having these conversations having provided every thing pretty much in the past and it's only now Im having to think about my own future as well...Hope you understand
Thank you
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Thanks for the further information.
Whatever assets and liabilities are in joint names, legally will remain in joint names and whatever is in sole names will remain in sole names.
Unless your partner had agreed that your contributions would amount to you obtaining an interest in sole-named property then legally you have no right to claim. Unlike married couples, your contributions do not create an interest unless there has been prior agreement between you.
If you are no longer the children's fully equal or main carer, you will be liable for child maintenance which will be calculated on your gross income and how many nights a week the children stay with you.
Given that there are a lot of issues that you need to discuss with your partner I would suggest that you make a referral to an independent mediator who will assist you both to reach an amicable agreement regarding both the finances and children issues. You can find local mediators here: familymediationcouncil.org.uk
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. So it would it be realistic to sell both homes and split the proceeds as per our joint ownership and then she gets a place somewhere? Or rents? Or is she able to claim that my equity to go into a home for the boys?
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Initially, she may seek to remain in one of the homes until an agreed age of the youngest child, after which the property would be sold an equity shared. However, if there is agreement that both properties are to be sold and she funds her own property elsewhere which meets the needs for the children, then this can also be explored. It would depend on how she wishes to pursue it, as if both properties are sold this will cause some instability and uncertainty for the children. From her perspective, the sale of the properties will need to ensure that she is able to fund alternative accommodation for her and the children.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I feel confused. Can my partner insist that my half of the equity be used for the benefit of the children?Or am I able to retain that so I can also have a home to bring them to?Or am I consigned to renting forever?
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Sorry for the confusion. As the main carer, your partner can make an application to court that her and the children remain living in the property until the children are a certain age (eg. youngest to be 16 or completes education) and once that happens for the property to be sold and proceeds shared.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
So let's say the proceeds of be family home go toward making the cottage or somewhere else appropriate and mortgage free, how then is further maintenance calculated? It surely can't be the 20% of income for 2 children if they already are homed?
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Child maintenance is based on the non-resident parent's gross income. It does not take into account that the children are housed.
The rates vary depending on your gross income as follows, based on two children staying up to 1 night a week with you:
£100-200 per week - £7 for the first £100 and 25% of income between £100-200
£200-800 per week - 16%
£800-3000 per week - 16% for the first £800 and 12% between £800-3000.
If you are able to give me your gross income figure, and how many nights per week you intend the children to stay with you I can given you an accurate figure.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you, ***** ***** I misunderstood? So if we never had the opportunity to have a mortgage free situation for the boys, they would still get the representative percentage of gross income?So essentially I will be paying twice for my endeavours?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I hope to have the children often and have them during holidays etc. It will no doubt be more than once per week.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My income currently is little or none, but it has been at least 150k previously when the business was doing well.
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
The children will be accommodated and you will eventually see your share of the property upon reaching majority age, but legally you would be expected to contributed to their day to day needs by way of child maintenance.
The child maintenance calculation will not be based on past income but on the income whenever a child maintenance application is submitted. If your gross weekly income is less than £7 you will not have to pay child maintenance.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
But there is an inalienable reality to this. The cottage is in catchment and walking distance to my eldest's school, if that means the majority of any equity being spent making that cottage appropriate for 3 then it will have to go there yes? Also, any shortfall between her ability to earn and mine will need to be found.. It will be irrelevant how much I earn as I'll just have to find a way of providing it no?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
What would happen if I and she were not working and we didn't have the equity in the family home?
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Not necessarily - if she cannot maintain it financially and you are unable to assist to contribute then the property will need to be sold and a more financially suitable property will need to be found (whether it is bought or rented).
If you did not have equity in the family home and neither of you could financially maintain it, then the property would likely have to be sold.
Expert:  Clare replied 1 year ago.
My name is ***** ***** I have been a family layer for more than 30 yearsFor clarity:-The issue is how much would a cheaper three bedroom property in the same school area cost to buy - and what mortgage capacity your ex has.Under Schedule 1 of the Children Act you are under a duty to help house the children until they are 18, so if the amount required for a cheaper property is more than £300,000 plus her mortgage capacity then some of your capital will need to be used to rehouse them.That capital (expressed as a percentage of the equity) will be repaid to you when your youngest is 18 or your ex cohabits.
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Hi, this question remains open. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
If you found the information provided helpful please could you rate my response positively so that the question can be closed.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello, thank you for your advice so far. There is a suggestion that the cottage is extended to make it 3 bed and that the cash left over from the sale of the family home
is given to me in return for a smaller percentage of the cottage. She says I can't insist on decision making but can be involved. Is this true? Also her solicitor has said £700 per child would "not be unreasonable" yet I don't have any income right now, is this acceptable? Also that she can claim for a car as she has a fiat 500 now. I now don't have any car as I sold it to pay the mortgage last month. Can she really insist on this?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry. Re he decision making element, it's regarding the way the extension is done and detail of materials etc,
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
If you cannot agree the decision amicably, then it is for the court to decide what is reasonable - so neither of you can "insist" on a decision. What has to take priority, as stated previously, is what is being provided for the children. If extending the property will not benefit the children (either directly or indirectly) then doing so will not be in your interest and the court will not agree to it.
If she has a car that is suitable for her and the children she cannot insist on you providing a further one.
In relation to the £700 child maintenance - I imagine that this is based solely on what she has stated are the children's day to day needs. The fact is, if she were to make an application for child maintenance it will be dependant on your gross income, and if that is nil, then you are not liable to pay any child maintenance.
Expert:  Harris replied 12 months ago.
Hi, this question remains open. If you found my information provided helpful please could you rate my response positively so that the question can be closed.
Please let me know if you have any further questions.

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