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Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34907
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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I need urgent advice regarding spousal and child maintenance

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I need urgent advice regarding spousal and child maintenance payments. I am long term separated and husband (UK) national lives and works abroad and has own business. Over the last few years he has gradually significantly reduced all maintenance payments and stopped paying my sons school fees, forcing him to leave his private school 1 year before his GCSE's which had a devastating result. We are now in a position where he regularly misses payments and sends nothing and basically tells me to be grateful for what I receive and will only send money if he has anything left.
He is extremely aggressive and abusive via email and now no longer speaks with my 17 year old son who questioned him about the abuse. Since then in total I am receiving c20% of what I used to and am 5 months in arrears with the mortgage.
I can't afford lawyers but need an emergency court order for both spousal and child maintenance. I work part time and gave up my good career to support his. I have been left to bring up 2 children (daughter is now 24) basically alone as he very rarely visited the uk to see them (once a year for a few days).
Thank you for any advice you can provide.
Kind regards

Thank you for your question

My name is Clare

I shall do my best to help you but I need some some further information first.

What capital assets are there and where are his bank accounts situated/

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hello ClareAssets that I know about are the house, in joint names 50/50, mortgage of c. 650,000 and value probably around 900k. His business interests but not sure if this is an asset? And no knowledge of it. My car is leased, so really nothing else that I'm aware of.He has accounts in China and Hong Kong (companies are registered in (HK), but I have only ever received payments from business accounts so not sure where his personal account(s) are?He has lots of companies registered as seems to close them down if it doesn't work out with an investor so they can't pursue him.ThanksShirley
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
For information: c. 6-7 years ago he was paying 7k a month to include 2 X school fees. Has been reduced and reduced and so far in 2016 received c9k, received c. 37k in 2015. I can give exact figs if you need them as I document everything.Received an email from him today saying he will pay what he thinks is fair.

Does he have any income in the Uk?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, none that I know of.

Could his business cope if he had to close the Hong Kong bank accounts?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No probably not as most of his business is in China, not really sure to be honest
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Would it be easier if I just got a divorce and applied for maintenance pending suit?

My major concern is how you would enforce an Order.

Does your ex have any need to come to the Uk or could he stay away indefinitely?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He already does stay away in definately, hasn't been back for 15 months and before now has left it 2 years. I know he returns occasionally for business but sometimes doesn't let us know in advance.... He tells me after the event.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
His most valuable asset is his passport and the ability to travel freely, he would be very concerned about any talk of contempt of court etc, in case it was ever flagged anywhere and he couldn't travel to the US. He would never want anything like that hanging over him. So he may comply with British courts, even though he thinks they are grossly unfair.

That is something then.

Are you willing to go straight for a divorce?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
no problem with divorce
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Really need best deal possible for a divorce

Is he likely to stop paying the mortgage

I am asking these to try and help you plan away forward that minimises the financial risk to you!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Already has effectively by not giving me maintenance as I pay mortgage out of that. He wants to minimise what he pays.When will you be in a position to give me a full response?Thanks

The best way forward is an immediate Divorce petition as that give you the widest spectrum of financial options

I have little doubt that within any final settlement you will receive all of the equity in the house as it is the only asset that the Court has immediate control over

You can certainly apply for Maintenance Pending Suit - and also Child Maintenance - you cannot use the CMS as he works abroad

The principal problems with be obtaining disclosure from him and enforcing the maintenance Orders

However to an extent I suggest that the fact that he will be defiant to the court will assist you with regard to the settlement and the court will simply assume he has more assets that you think and award you the house outright because of his intransigence.

Enforcing the maintenance Orders can be dealt with via his Hong Kong accounts- if he does not close them - and ultimately by the threat aOrders through the use of the threat of imprisonment when he comes to the UK

I appreciate that this is not an ideal solution but given the fact that his assets are abroad sadly there is no way around it.

The starting point is the divorce - and you have ample grounds to divorce him based on his Unreasonable Behaviour.

You can start the process using the details here

Please ask if you need further details

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi ClareMany thanks for your response.Do you have any idea how much maintenance I would receive or how it's worked out.Even though he will say he earns very little as he pays himself bare minimum but the company pays for all his expenses and lifestyle. He constantly tells me I will receive very little as it will be based on his income.I can show the courts the maintenance he has been paying over the years which he obviously can afford. I can also show emails proving that his reduction in maintenance is intentional with his comments of 'your services are no longer required' (ie looking after the children) and that he no longer has any emotional ties to the kids so doesn't feel he should pay.Ideally I would like to stay in this house as long as possible as it's the only asset I have and will go up in value and definately until my 17 year old son finishes his full time education/ apprenticeship as he has had enormous disruption already due to his father not paying his school fees and forcing him to leave his private school. He was assessed by a professional (I have the report) when he was 12 and he has some learning difficulties and needs support. He was specifically sent to the particular private school to get that. Not sure if the court will take that into consideration in allowing us to stay infefinately in the house and not force a sale on me.although I want his equity transferred to me I need to keep him on the mortgage or the house would need to be sold. It wouldn't affect him as he doesn't live in the UK.Can the court order that?ThanksShirley
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Sorry I forgot to ask, can I make an application for him to pay all the court and my legal fees associated with the divorce ? as a divorce is being forced on me due to his actions (long list of shocking behaviour) and him not paying maintenance gives him an advantage as I wouldn't be able to pay for full legal services.Thanks

Yes you certainly can include a claim for costs within your divorce petition.

There is no question of a sale of the house being forced upon you - I would expect the house to be given to you which will mean that you will be able to decide if there is a

sale and when.

With regard to maintenance all his income will be looked at - including the dividends he takes from his company.

The child maintenance is 12% of his gross income.

Spouse maintenance is needs based - and if I were you I would be seeking a sum equivalent to the mortgage - however this can only ever be a very rough guide.

Clare and other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you