How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 35058
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
Type Your Family Law Question Here...
Clare is online now

My "wife" and I separated 18 months ago and she has remained

This answer was rated:

My "wife" and I separated 18 months ago and she has remained in the family home with our two children aged 13 and 15. I pay the mortgage in lieu of maintenance. I understand that I have a legal tie to the property and would like to know if possible what the extent of a legal tie is? I am aware that she has changed the locks for no apparent reason and has made some alterations to the internal decor, a little more than just a lick of paint. She has also sold or exchanged some of the contents that we jointly owned with no consultation or recompense to me.
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare
I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
Just to confirm - are you actually married?
How much is the house worth and how much is outstanding on the mortgage?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes we are still married.


The approximate market value would be £185000 and there is £19000 outstanding on the mortgage.

Are you planning divorce proceedings?
What other assets are there and what income do you each have?
How much would a cheaper three bedroom property in the same general area cost to buy?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am not planning any divorce proceedings and I am unaware of whether she is.


The house and contents are the only assets. We both have company pensions.


She works part time, 18 hours/week for the local government authority earning approximately £10500 a year. She also claims child and working tax credits to the vaue of approximately £550 per month and also is in receipt of all the child benefit of £134 per month.


I work full time 39 hours a week and my take home pay is £310 per week. I can increase my pay by working overtime but this is not reliable.


Looking on Rightmove there is currently one 3 bed property in the area priced at £159950 but this doesnt have a garden and just a back yard. This is the lowest priced property that I have found.

How much is the monthly mortgage payment and what items has she disposed of?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The monthly mortgage payment is £190 per month on a repayment mortgage. This is backed up by two insurance policies which I also pay costing me £15 per month. These policies are of the type that only pay out on the death of either of us to cover the remainder of the mortgage.


I am aware that she has disposed of a pine dining table and 6 chairs that cost £650 pounds about 10 years ago and a gas barbecue that cost approximatley £200 about 4 years ago.


Unless my children tell me I don't know what may or may not have been sold or removed as like I stated earlier she has changed the locks and I have no access to the house as I do not have a key.


Would you have wanted these items?
How often do the children stay with you overnight?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Its not that i would have wanted these items, its about the sale of them and no recompense to me. Its also about whether she can just sell them without asking as they were jointly owned.


The children have stayed with me once each for one night each in the time we have been separated. They are generally with me at least one day a week. If its a week day I cook there evening meal if its at the weekend then I feed them lunch and evening meal.

The amount that you are paying is under what the CSA assessment would be so you need to be aware of that
You are a joint owner of the property and it is your Matrimonial Home and as such you can return there whenever you wish - which does not mean that it is wise to do so
It is unlikely that the court will order a sale of the property before your youngest is 18 - but once that point is reached then a sale can take place and you will receive a share of the equity.
Whilst the starting point is a 50/50 division it is likely that your ex will in fact get a larger share - maybe a 60/40 split in her favour - more if she gives up any claim on your pension (if you have one)
With regard to the contents you are certainly entitled to first refusal - and an accounting in respect of monies received - however the fact that you are underpaying the maintenance could be a significant problem.
I hope that this is of assistance - please ask if you need further details
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I understand that I am paying less than the CSA assessment would be and by my calculations that would be approximately £30 per month. The fact that I pay the mortgage in lieu of maintenance was the option I chose of the two that were offered by my ex ie maintenance or mortgage.

Although I jointly own the matrimonial home with her I do not have access as she changed the locks and I do not have a key.

We both have company pensions. If she made a claim on mine could I make a claim on hers?

A 50/50 split would be acceptable to me. I say this as I would be agrieved and feel that considering the major source of finance for the last 15 years has been my income, even though she has had the opportunity to increase her earnings potential by increasing her hours as the children have become older.

Would it be possible to argue a 50/50 split on the grounds of ability to get a mortgage to be able to purchase another property due to age?

I am 52 and she is 45.

Is she entitled to give property away or remove a garden shed without consultation with me?


Whether or not it is acceptable to do I am afraid that a 50/50 split is the best result you can achieve and that is not guaranteed - and remember this will not happen for another five years
The issue of the contents and what will happen when the youngest is 18 are things that you should discuss with your ex using Family mediation (
Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you