Thank you for your response.
In relation to divorce - if your wife decided to proceed at this present time, then she would need to do so on the grounds of your unreasonable behaviour.
You could seek to contest divorce if you do not want to be divorced. If you wanted to do so there are strict time scales and you would have to respond within 14 days.
Contested divorces can become expenive if you want representation.
In relation to your son. It is the position of the courts that he is entitled to a really good relationship with botlh of you and that should prevail as long as there are no child protection reasons as to why this should not happen. Courts expect parents to agree arrangements without the need for court intervention. Courts will make Child Arrangments Orders when parents cannot decide. A court does ot favour a particular parent and will order a shared care agreement if that meets the childs needs.
In relation to the matrimonial finances - the correct way of dealing with the same is by making a claim which can only be done once divorce proceedings have been issued.
The matrimonial finances includes all of the assets and liabilities for both of you. You will both be under a duty of full disclosure to provide full details of all assets and liabilities for both of you to each other.
With a long marriage, considered to be over 5 years, then the starting point for the division of all assets is equality.
The court considers the following criteria when deciding whether to depart from equality:
The income, earning capacity, property and other financial resources which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future, including in the case of earning capacity any increase in that capacity which it would, in the opinion of the Court, be reasonable to expect a party to the marriage to take steps to acquire;The financial needs, obligations and responsibilities which each of the parties to the marriage has or is likely to have in the foreseeable future;The standard of living enjoyed by the family before the breakdown of the marriage;The age of each party to the marriage and the duration of the marriage;Any physical or mental disability of either of the parties to the marriage;The contributions which each of the parties has made or is likely in the foreseeable future to make to the welfare of the family, including any contribution by looking after the home or caring for the family;The conduct of each of the parties, if that conduct is such that it would, in the opinion of the Court, be inequitable to disregard it;In the case of proceedings for divorce or nullity of marriage, the value to each of the parties to the marriage of any benefit which, by reason of the dissolution or annulment of the marriage, that party will lose the chance of acquiring (e.g. a right to your husband’s pensions).
From what you have said as you earn less you need to be seeking a larger share of the matrimonial assets - somewhere around 10 % more than equality. You can also claim for spousal maintenance as your income is less. There is no set rule for spousal maintenance but this is usually around a third.
The court will want to secure the housing for the children. As there is signicant equity the court would likely order that the houses be sold and the equity realised so that you can both downsize and buy properties to meet your sons housing needs.
You need to consider referring to family mediation. This is a prerequisite before you can apply to court. Google family mediation in your area and give them a call to self refer.
Mediation will try and help you both through full disclosure of both your financial positions and discussions about division. If agreement can be reached at mediation then a consent order should be submitted to the court when applying for decree absolsute in divorce proceedings to finalise matters.
If agreement cannot be reached at mediation then the mediator will sign the form that you need to apply to court.
Mediation can also assist in relation to agreeing arrangements for your son.
If divorce is not yet contemplated then you could consider a separation agreement. Mediation could again help you agree the terms for this. You need to be aware that such separation agreements are not legally binding on a future family court Judge but they can and do order in line with what was agreed if they considered that full disclosure had taken place and what was agreed was fair.
If your wife wont agree to keep supporting you with the bills then you need to issue divorce proceedings and ask the court for interim maintenance so that the court can order that these costs are met until the matrimonial finances are resolved.
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