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Ask Clare Your Own Question

Clare
Clare, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 33307
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practice since 1985 with a wide general experience.
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My ex husband and I divorced in 2010. I had a family business

Customer Question

My ex husband and I divorced in 2010. I had a family business and in the divorce it was written that he was to work for the business in lieu of csa and to pay for the childrens school fees (he is also a fireman). In 2012 the business closed and I had no income. I went to the csa and 10 months later I was receiving regular payments from my ex via the csa. He said he would contribute towards the childrens school fees, but never has. Instead he took £7000 from my business account; bearing in mind that this money was in lieu of csa. Am i entitled to that back (the account was joint signatory, unfortunately) Furthermore, we have 3 rental properties jointly owned, which were bought for the sole benefit of our children. I have always maintained the properties, has I have an email advising that he refuses to maintain them, from 2012. I have been using the income to pay for school fees so that the children do not have any further disruption in their lives. Now he is asking for half the rental income back. He is suggesting that the divorce only states that the equity in the properties are for the children; the income is not specified. I have used the income to pay towards the school fees. I have not kept a penny for myself. Will I have to refund him? The income is £22,000 and I have paid £84,000 in school fees.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
HiThank you for your questionMy name is ***** ***** do my best to help you but I need some further details firstWhat is the exact wording of the Order regarding the properties?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
The parties hereby agree that the properties which are currently jointly owned listed below will remain in the partys joint names. the parties hereby agree that the cost of any work required to maintain the property, building insurance and any additional fees with regards ***** ***** accountants fees regarding these properties will be borne equally between the two parties. both parties acknowledge that any equity in the properties is for the sole benefit for the children of the family only. such equity is to be used to pay any future education costs or to provide for the children's needs. such equity will not be released without the consent from from parents.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
just checking that you received the actual wording from the divorce. Many thanks
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
When he took the £7,000 did you try and recover it at all?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I tried to recover through police. He finally admitted to them that he had changed the business address to his, ordered himself a debit card and gone into the branch and transferred the money into his own account. Because he was a joint signatory, the police couldn't pursue it through the CPS.
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
What was the wording about him paying the school fees ?(just checking that you are ok from all angles)
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
There was no wording in the divorce settlement about school fees if the business failed. However in 2012 we were caught up in a solicitors battle. The business closed and so the divorce stated I was to pursue maintenance through the CSA. However, my ex put it to me that he would give me £35,000 towards school fees when he retired from the firebrigade (in two years time) and would give me £300 maintenance pcm. I am entitled to £450 maintenance pcm, so I told him that the £300 wasn't enough. He then withdrew the £35000 offer for school fees. I asked if I paid the school fees would he allow me to take the first £80,000 equity out of the properties when they sold, to repay a loan I would need to take out for fees. He told me I could via his solicitor, but wouldn't sign a contract. In the end I got nowhere with anything and it cost me a fortune in solicitors. That ended in June 2012 and it was in October 2012 that he took the £7000. A lot has happened since. He no longer sees the kids as he physically assaulted them. We had an injunction against him but that has ended but he has recently starting emailing me so the police issued him with an harassment warning. Two weeks later I receive a letter from his solicitor demanding at least £20,000 in backdated rental profit/income, plus interest.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
in the divorce settlement it does state that ... "neither of them have any legal or equitable interest in the property or assets owned by the other except as provided for in this order."
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
What a charmer.Was the confirmation about him being willing to agree to the deal on the school fees set out in an open letter from the Solicitor.What did the Order say about School fees whilst he was still working in the business?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
The first offer of £35,000 was in a letter from the solicitor, as was the second offer. However, I was unable to obtain a loan for the whole amount of £80,000 anyway, which was why I was using the income from the properties towards the school fees. In our divorce, as he well knows, everything was for the children. Funny how he can forget that now.
The court order states that "The Respondent has given an undertaking that he will continue to pay child maintenance for the children ... each month by carrying out plumbing work for the Respondent's business (only just realised that they have said it is his business and not mine!!!) (for which the Applicant receives payment directly in lieu of child maintenance) Child maintenance will continue to be paid until the children cease full tertiary education.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
he also stated that he would pay £400 from the close of my business until the CSA payments were sorted. Because it took so long, the payments amounted to £3000. That was written in a letter from his solicitor, but he hasn't paid me that either.
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
What about school fees?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
what about them ? sorry, not sure what you mean
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
Does the Order specifically refer to School fees at all?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
he doesn't pay towards them and hasn't mentioned paying since 2012. He did mention that this education was classed as future education, in a letter from his solicitor, and he suggested selling one to release equity. But that didn't progress either. Really I had no choice but to use income from the properties.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
sorry, no there is no mention at all about present school fees, just the part where it says " both parties acknowledge that any equity in the properties is for the sole benefit for the children of the family only. such equity is to be used to pay any future education costs or to provide for the children's needs. such equity will not be released without the consent from from parents."
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
May I ask who drafted the Order?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
My Solicitor - Lees Solicitors, Birkenhead - Is that what you meant?
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
It is - they didn't do you many favours!What is your ex doing for a living now?
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
He's still in the fire brigade. He's station manager . Am I liable to give him the money back?
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
Yes and No.Legally I can see why they are claiming you should - but there is no way that you are going to do it The wording of the Order is not great BUT it is clear that the benefit of these properties is to be used for the children and it is unlikelythat a Judge would not agree that this includes the income being used for the School fees - especially when looking at everything else.The £7,000 shoudl be recoverable as he took it from the business account and it is clear that that was YOUR money - the question is whether you claim it within theFamily Proceedings or sue him separately. I think the best option would be to use the Money Claim online service and the Small Claims Court system.With regard to the rent I suggest that you write back to his solicitor stating something along the lines of"It was clear throughout the negotiations that your client would assist in the payment of the School fees and that he was aware that the properties were for the benefit of the children.If he wishes to incur costs by challenging this then please be aware that I shall make an applictaion for your client to pay towards the School fess, increasing costs for us both"I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further detailsClare
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for that information. With regards ***** ***** £3000 for maintenance that was promised via his solicitor, am I able to claim for that too?
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
Sadly no
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Really ? Why not if it's written down by a solicitor. Is nothing legally binding that a solicitor writes.
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
No I am afraid not.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for your help. Can I just ask, with regards ***** ***** letter that I am now to send to his solicitor, should I mention any facts or figures at this stage, or just leave any details to a minimum.
Expert:  Clare replied 8 months ago.
NO facts and figures - just the overview!

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