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Harris
Harris, Family Law Expert
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 2725
Experience:  Family Law - Specialist in Divorce, Financial Relief and Children Matters
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My sister is going through the divorce process after separating

Customer Question

Hi my sister is going through the divorce process after separating from her husband of 6 years. He has processed the proceedings online on grounds of unreasonable behaviour on his behalf. He moved out of their house into rented accommodation at the end of January and when my sister tried to take over payment of the mortgage on their house where she lives with their two children aged 5 and 3 she found out from bank that he owes huge debts to 11 different companies and that he also did not pay the mortgage payment for one month. My sister is in a mess and is claiming that they are going to deal with finances amicably. However, my worry is that when she sells the house she will end up liable for his debts. It also turns out that he is seeing an ex (we are not sure how long this has been going on for, who has two children and is conveniently separating from her husband). My sister did put a considerable sum of money towards the deposit on the marital home before she ceased work to have their children and so he has been the main bread winner. I just feel that a good solicitor would try to get the best for her at the moment he is only paying child benefit of £788 a month and not paying for the children who are living with her to have a roof over their heads. Please can you offer advice as to a legal standpoint as she is not accepting offers of help and is letting him lead her to a quick divorce where he gets half of house, but I can see her homeless and in debt. Please help.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
She has been to see a solicitor but I believe did not disclose all information and does not seem to be willing to pay the legal expenses but if I am right if she did pay solicitor/court costs she may secure a better future for the children.
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
Hi, thanks for your question. Just a bit more information required. Firstly, is the property in his sole name or joint names? How much debt does he have and what is the value of the home and the outstanding mortgage? Are the debts secured on the property? What other asets do they have ans what is their income income? Also, how far along the divorce are they?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Property in her maiden name and his name as property purchased before marriage. Think however the bank is now taking mortgage payments directly from her. He owes about £86,000 as far as I am aware . Not sure if any against mortgage as he dealt with all their finances. Property was bought for £220,000 and current market value is £325,000. I am unsure as to whether debts secured to mortgage and I believe his income is in the region of £65-£75,000 a year but he may have lied about that. They have two cars and now my sister is claiming benefits while he says he needs the house to be sold as he cannot afford to pay his rent of £900 a month plus he claims he is paying back debtors £1,200 a month plus the child maintenance. I am afraid I do not have all the information as he is unreliable. I believe the divorce agreed to in December and the initial paperwork submitted in January 2016.
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
As part of the divorce they will need to come to a financial settlement. The first thing they need to ensure is that her (as the main carer of the children) and both children are appropriately housed until the children reach a certain age (eg. youngest finishes education), and once that happens for the home to be sold and proceeds divided. They will also both need to disclose to each other their full financial position - so all income, debts and assets. The starting position is for there to be a 50-50 split of all assets. Further, if the liabilities he has were for matrimonial expenses and for the family then he has a good argument that she should share the debts as they were at time of separation. Regarding the £788 he pays per month in child maintenance, this will be correct under CMS rules if the children stay over with him on average less that one night per week and his gross income is £65,000. If it is £75,000 his liability is £888 per month. If she thinks the finances can be settled amicably she should make a referral to an independent mediator to assist them in reaching an agreement (she can find local mediators here: familymediationcouncil.org.uk) and once an agreement has been reached solicitors can assist them in preparing it into a court order which the court will need to approve - based on disclosure of their assets and whether the settlement is fair for her, him and the children. Please provide a positive rating if you found this helpful. I will not be credited with answering your question without a positive rating.
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your response can I just ask one more thing are you saying that he should be continuing to provide a home for her and the children. At the moment she is paying out of some savings but he wants the house sold asap. Should he still be paying the mortgage payments on the property.
Expert:  Harris replied 1 year ago.
There should be appropriate provision for the children to be housed. If the current property remains suitable then the court will deem it appropriate for the chidlren to remain there. If she cannot meet all the outgoings and her reasonable needs then she can apply for spousal maintenance from him - although his needs and income will also need to be assessed and if he cannot meet his reasonable needs then the court will not agree that he should pay spousal maintenance

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