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UKfamsol, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 560
Experience:  Very experienced specialist family law solicitor, qualifed in 1994
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In March 2009 I left my husband as our marriage had broken

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In March 2009 I left my husband as our marriage had broken down. My son wanted to stay in the house and I thought that was probably best as I was close by anyway so could look after him.He is now nearly 21. Now after 5 years the house has deteriorated badly and I feel that he has done this on purpose so that I wont sell it as he feels that it is his house. They even had a fire 2 years ago on the landing and it has not been painted at all or the affected floor boards replaced. He feels that I cannot sell it as I have not paid the mortgage for these five years although I had 2 houses previously before I bought this one in 1988 and paid the majority of the mortgage whilst I was there. He was put on the house after we married in 1992. Please will you give me some advice

Hello and thanks for your question.

I need a bit more info to be able to answer:

Have you started divorce proceedings?
What would you say roughly the huse is worth now, in its present condition?
What would it be worth if in good condition?
What other assets and liabilities are there?
What income do each have per year?
What would be your ideal outcome?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I have not started divorce proceedings yet but will as soon as i know what should happen to the house. I also have a legal aid bill on the house dating back to 1991. This is from my first marriage when my husband left and i fought for custody over my son and was granted the house. The bill has to be paid if I sell the house.

In the present condition the house needs a complete refurbishment. new kitchen bathroom there is plaster coming off in some of the bedroom ceilings. But as it is in a good area and a substantial house I would hope to get more than £200000. In better condition the house would be worth over £300000. I also had a roofer in and he says the roof needed to be replaced which I was ready to do but my husband refused blank and bought in some gypsy firm to paint over the slates and try to stop any leaks.

I have left all the household items there for his use that i had paid for. Including all kitchen items, new dining room table & chairs sitting room suite and beds etc. My piano that was my dads and then mine is still there and that is obviously mine and so are most of the ornaments, the bone china tea and dinner service that my grandmother left to me when I was a child, bedding books some kitchen utensils. Im not worried about the contents apart from my own personal items that ive been left. I dont know how much all this comes to but obviously several thousands of pounds.

I am earning approx £15000 per year my husband has a pert time job at asda warehouse he could work full time if he asked. works approx 26 hours per week. I believe he is on about £11 per hour but it may have gone up.

My ideal outcome would be to live in the house myself and do it up but otherwise i believe im only entitled to half the cost after everything is paid off hopefully anyway. I believe the legal aid is approx £25000 but I can pay that myself if I have to out of myself and my partners joint money savings. The mortgage is approx £30000 and paid off in 9 years. He has paid the mortgage for the last 5 years as i had to rent a property and could not afford both. He also put several credit card loans of his own to pay off on the mortgage which should of finished in 2013.

I dont know if this makes any difference at all but he is also on the crime register for beating me with a snooker cue. He served a community sentence for this working about 200 hours in a charity shop. This and another unrecorded event which was previous in 2005 and the conviction in 2006 was a big reason for the fact that I left in 2009.

I hope that this helps a bit. If there is anything else that i have not picked up on please let me know.

One more thing I had 2 houses that i bought consecutively the first being in 1984. These paid £21000 off the house when I took out the mortgage leaving only £50000 to pay. I bought this house in May 1988.

Hello and thanks for all the extra info.

As I have to go out now, please bear with me to give me time to consider my response, hopefully by Sunday evening. Thanks.
UKfamsol and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you

Hello again and thanks for the extra information

From what you say, the only asset between the two of you is the former matrimonial home now worth £200,0000 in its current condition (could be worth £300,000 if completely refurbished) with an outstanding mortgage of £30,000. So the current equity ie what has to be divided between the 2 of you is £170,000, but you seem to be asking whether there is an argument that your husband's share be reduced by £100,000 because due to his negligence the property is currently worth £100,000 less than it should be worth.

In addition to the mortgage, there is also a legal aid charge secured on the property of £25,000 approx, dating from 1991, before your marriage in 1992. The house was bought in your sole name in 1988 with a deposit of £21,000 from the sale of your previous house, plus a mortgage of £50,000 (now only £30,000 left to pay, to be fully paid in 9 years time)

Your husband's name was added to the title deeds and the mortgage in 1992. You say that his credit card debts were also secured against the property after you left, but that these are probably paid off by now.

You also mention your husband's behaviour which led to a conviction for assault against you.

Once a divorce petition has been filed at court, either party can ask the court to decide how the matrimonial assets should be divided between them if they cannot agree. The matrimonial assets are everything in your name, everything in his name, and everything you own jointly. In your case, it seems that the only matrimonial asset in the former matrimonial home where your husband still lives.

It is possible to have an argument about the value of a particular asset eg the house. This is usually solved by taking the average of 3 valuations – but in your case, the argument about the value is different.

I understand your frustration with the house not having been properly maintained in the last 5 years, but I think you won't succeed in getting your husband's share reduced as a result – because 1) your name remained on the title deeds so it was as much your responsibility as his, 2) your incomes are roughly equal 3) he would have had to take out loans or increase the mortgage to pay for the refurbishments – such a loan would have counted as a matrimonial liability, and therefore taken into account by reducing the figure for net matrimonial assets to be divided between the two of you 4) what the value for the house would have been IF the property had been properly maintained can only ever be hypothetical and speculative, and I don't believe the court would therefore use that figure. I am therefore going to take the equity in the house as being £170,000.

It can be possible to argue that certain assets or part of the value of assets be ignored and not counted towards the total of matrimonial assets, if eg party brought a large asset or sum of money into the marriage. For example in your case, the property was in your sole name for 4 years from 1988 to 1992, you could argue that 4/26 of the equity should count as yours, and not count towards the total of the matrimonial assets when looking at what each person's share would be. This argument is particularly relevant in short marriages. But your marriage from 1992 to 2014 is 22 years, so it would be much more difficult to get the court to accept this argument in your case.

I agree with you that the legal aid charge will have to come out your share of the assets – it can't be counted as a matrimonial liability since it was incurred before the date of your marriage.

You may possibly be able to argue that your husband's share should be reduced because of his behaviour towards you – but it is very rare for the court to take bad behaviour into account when deciding how the assets of the marriage should be divided.

The court starts from the position that the assets (once agreed what counts as a matrimonial asset & a matrimonial liability and the value of those) should be divided equally unless there is good reason why not eg one party has a significantly lower income than the other, or will be providing a home for dependent children. In your case, your incomes are broadly similar and there are no dependent children.

So if you can persuade the court to accept that you keep 4/26th of the equity before the division, then your share is ½ of [ £170,000 - 4/26 x £170,000] plus [4/26 x £170,000], which works out as follows:

4/26 x £170,000 = £26,153.85

£170,000 - £26,153.85 = £143,846.15

£143 846.15 / 2 = £71,923.07

Your share of the equity = £71,923.07 + £26,153.85 = £98,076.92 (out of which you will have to pay the £25,000 legal aid charge)

Your husband's share = £170,000 - £98,076.92 = £71,923.08

That means to get the house and the mortgage in your name, you would have to buy out your husband's interest with a lump sum of £71,923.08. However on your income of £15,000, your mortgage capacity is only £45,000 or maybe £60,000 – but you already have a mortgage of £30,000, so the most you will be able to raise is £15,000 or £30,000, which is not enough to buy out your husband. So the house will have to be sold.

If your husband does not agree either that the house should be sold, or in how the net sale proceeds should be divided after the sale, then (once you have filed your divorce petition at court) you can apply to court for an order for sale, which if granted will also specify the shares that each of you should get.

However, going to court is stressful, time-consuming and expensive, so to be avoided if at all possible. Anyway the family court now requires the parties to have attempted mediation before it will consider an application to court. Here's where to find a local family mediation service:

If you are able to negotiate an agreement whether between yourselves or via solicitors' correspondence or via mediation, that agreement can be turned into a legally-binding agreement by a solicitor preparing a draft consent order which you both sign, which is then sent to court for the court's approval, once the divorce has reached decree nisi stage. Once approved and entered onto the court record, the consent order is as binding as an order made at the end of contested proceedings.

You would benefit from some face-to-face legal advice. Here's where to find a specialist family law solicitor:

I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck.

Thanks and best wishes...

Hello again

I see that you have looked at my answer but not accepted it.

Is there anything in your question you feel I have not answered? Or anything in my answer you would like clarifying?

Let me know - I'll do my best!