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Shoe on the other foot
#1
Hi 

I'm looking for advice and opinion of where I stand given my circumstances.

A few months ago, my wife of 20 years decided to end the marriage.  I moved out into a flat and took the kids (9 & 12) with me.  My wife still lives in the family house for which I continue to pay the mortgage and bills.  She has not worked for more than 12 years.

Kids stay with me but spend one night a week with her (on weekends) and don't want to live with her longer than that.  So far, she has accepted that arrangement for her own reasons.

I've filed for the divorce and there is a good chance that she'll opt to go to court as she believes that she is entitled to 100% equity in the house, 50% of my pension and other assets, generous spousal maintenance, child maintenance, and be the primary carer of our kids.  It seems that she is basing this on advice given to her by her solicitor who also thinks that she can get a cost order against me as well.

Given that kids currently live with me, I consider myself to be their primary carer now. Am I wrong?

I'm not prepared to change the current arrangement and she cannot force me to, at least not easily and quickly.  Now I'm wondering if she goes to court, will I be treated the same as a mother who had the kids with the same arrangement or being a father puts me at a disadvantage?

On finances, assuming the status quo holds, my financial needs are higher than that of my wife.  I really want to move into a bigger place (preferably buy it on a mortgage) so that kids can go back to living the way they did before our split.  Again, being a father (albeit who earns), should I not expect at least 50% of all assets?

I guess, for a change, shoe is on the other foot, but does it really matter when it goes to courts?

Any advice and comments will be greatly appreciated.
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#2
Evening,

First consideration of a court is the welfare of the children. You would also be entitled to Child Benefit, and potentially CMA as the current Resident parent.

If your wife is able to work, but chooses not too, I cant imagine a court would look favourably on that.... you go one up so to speak.

And as far as 100% of the equity goes........never going to happen. Get a solicitor, get some advice. Be honest with them. They wont give you black and white answers, but they will give you good expectation.
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#3
(10-10-2017, 07:24 PM)Thanatos Wrote: Evening,

First consideration of a court is the welfare of the children. You would also be entitled to Child Benefit, and potentially CMA as the current Resident parent.

If your wife is able to work, but chooses not too, I cant imagine a court would look favourably on that.... you go one up so to speak.

And as far as 100% of the equity goes........never going to happen. Get a solicitor, get some advice. Be honest with them. They wont give you black and white answers, but they will give you good expectation.

Thanks Thanatos.

I've discussed this with a solicitor now and they also think that 100% of assets split in her favour is extremely unlikely.  They are also a bit surprised that her solicitor has not tried to set more realistic expectations for her settlement. 

I've also been advised that going to court is a very expensive option and in most cases with no better outcome than what can be achieved if both parties are being realistic and put children's welfare first.

I made an offer of 50% of all assets and 100% of all expenses related to children (while keeping the current residence arrangement) but it has been turned down.  I've absolutely no problem with children spending more time with their mother but only if the wish to (which they currently don't).  This is my bigger worry than finances as I don't want to force them and make them feel that I don't want to look after them.

I don't want this to drag on for too long and just want to rebuild my life.  I'd be happy to increase the offer to settle everything amicably but it takes two to tango.

It seems that women tend to be told by their solicitors that courts always favour mothers (regardless of how unreasonable their demands are), but men are told to tone down their expectations.  What an unfair country we live in!!!

Is it better to negotiate through solicitors and see where it goes?
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#4
I would avoid solicitors, and use a MIAM session instead - Mediation. It would be more cost effective, and less "fighty"
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#5
I agree with Thanatos there. For the Child Arrangements. If an agreement is drawn up at mediation that says the children live with you, this can be put into a court order by agreement. You then legally have them living with you. I would deal with that first before any divorce or other financials. But it sounds like, although they are living with you now - she intends to have them live with her - so she may not agree.

I think you need to keep very good records of everything at the moment. Keep a diary or calendar showing exactly when the kids go to their Mum's. Have everything documented that they live with you. Write to the school and tell them and give them yours and the childrens address. Give the new address to their Doctor. Get as much stuff on paper that shows their home is with you. Records of activities, clubs attended. Email clubs and actitivies organisers explaining the children live with you at x address and asking them to contact you if there are any accidents or concerns and confirming what days they attend and who will be collecting them and picking them up (it's another record). Same with school - write a brief letter or email to headteacher saying children live with you at x address, who will be collecting them from school on which days and which days they spend with their Mother. Ask them to deal with you and the kids Mother separately and confidentially due to ongoing legalities. Ask them to send you copies of school reports, details of parents evenings and school activities and any school newsletters. direct to your address or email address.

Spend time with friends and family with the kids and go to events with other people. If you ever need a character reference or a statement that the children live with you, that could be helpful.

My concern would be as there is nothing legal yet, and the ex still lives in the former marital home, she could just keep them one day and say they live there now. So I'd also be wary of mediation in some ways. If you do go to mediation, write to the mediator confirming the children live with you and have done since x date and this is the address or give her the letter at the first appointment.

There can be dirty tricks - with my ex - if you do anything reasonable she takes the information and uses it against you. She just wants to win.

The difficulty I think is that the Mother is automatically the resident parent but I'm not 100% sure on that. For it to be legal that you are the resident parent it would need to be agreed in writing or in a court order I think. But not sure on that either. Children of 9 and 12 can still be manipulated and then their choices aren't their own.

Practical things - do they have their own bedrooms in the flat? Anything that shows it's a good home for them might help.

People can be motivated by money. There is money involved in residence issues. The resident parent gets all the child tax credits and is entitled to child maintenance payments. Can't see your ex liking that if you have residence - so don't trust anyone right now! I believe that's general advice in divorce anyway - don't do anything based on trust. The trust has gone once you're on different sides of the table and money is involved.

The longer the kids are living with you now, the more case you have for keeping them there. I think I would want some legal advice on what to do if the ex kept the kids and didn't return them - and I expect your ex is getting advice on that too. It might be possible to go for an emergency residency order if that happens and they've been living with you for some weeks or months.
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#6
Shared residence can get round this issue if you can get an agreement on that and have it documented. (Children live with both parents to an agreed schedule). Now called "Lives with" not residency.
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#7
(10-14-2017, 02:14 PM)Charlie7000 Wrote: Shared residence can get round this issue if you can get an agreement on that and have it documented.  (Children live with both parents to an agreed schedule).  Now called "Lives with" not residency.

Thank you both Thanatos and Charlie7000 for your advice.

Unfortunately, I trusted her and was totally honest about how I wanted to resolve everything amicably.  An agreement was reached and she changed her mind at the last minute.  I've learnt my lesson - I'll not take her word for anything now!

As I've PR, my solicitor says that legally speaking Mother and I have exactly the same rights and if she refuses to return them, I can get an emergency order to bring them back to their usual residence.

Her solicitor has planted an idea in her head that if she goes to court, she'll get everything.  My solicitor thinks otherwise but as always no guarantees!

I'm now considering Mediation but not sure how much a mediator will be able to convince her that going to court is waste of time and money.  Does anyone know whether mediators ever tell that either party is being unreasonable and irrational?
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#8
I've only had one experience on one mediator (same one twice). They can be quite good at pointing out to one party that if it went to court the other party would get this - as a kind of leverage to agree something. On the other hand, I find they kind of want you to give in on too much without realising the manipulation that's going on. So in my case, no I'm not going to agree to flexibility that means she can just change dates or cancel them all the time because she is alienating my son so the less I see him the more she can do it. Sorry, rant there.
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#9
(10-16-2017, 08:41 PM)Charlie7000 Wrote: I've only had one experience on one mediator (same one twice).  They can be quite good at pointing out to one party that if it went to court the other party would get this - as a kind of leverage to agree something.  On the other hand, I find they kind of want you to give in on too much without realising the manipulation that's going on.  So in my case, no I'm not going to agree to flexibility that means she can just change dates or cancel them all the time because she is alienating my son so the less I see him the more she can do it.  Sorry, rant there.

Not surprisingly, she thinks mediation is a waste of time and wants to have her day in a court!

I was really hoping to resolve all this amicably but seems impossible to have a rational argument with a woman who only sees $$$.  It is quite clear that she actually does not want the day-to-day responsibilities of the kids (she already has a new man in her life) but still goes around telling everyone that I'm stopping her from seeing the kids.  As is common in such cases, all sorts of lies about what I said to her etc to friends and family are being spread.

My solicitor thinks there is a very good chance of getting a court decision in my favour but as always no guarantees!

Both kids are very happy with the current arrangement and I'd rather spend my hard earned money on them than courts/solicitors.  It is a shame that their mother does not see it that way.

I'm sure she will come up with more lies in court and play the mother card.  Is there any reason why a court would side with her just because she is a mother when I'm an equally (if not better) capable parent?
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#10
Try to ignore the gossip etc and keep focused on the big stuff. Whether she wants to go to mediation or not doesn't matter too much - in fact it will look better for you if you have attended a MIAM and she then refuses to attend mediation. Mediation isn't cheap either, and it can be better to spend the money on court. I have the same anxieties - what is the likelihood of xyz. There is no certainty about anything, but keep focused on what you want and how to achieve it and keep alert to manipulation. Unfortunately you are now on two sides of the fence and have different motivations. If she does go to mediation it might talk her into making a reasonable agreement that can be put forward for a court order. Either way, you need to have the MIAM and be signed off to go to court. Unless it's an emergency order I think. There can be some dirty tricks especially if she has a Solicitor advising her as it gets adversarial, so I'd just say - keep schtum as much as possible! And get everything documented as much as possible that the kids live with you. Whether she wants them to live with her or not she may realise that she may have to pay you child maintenance if they live with you so unfortunately there can be money motivations.

Getting a clear court order that will last can be worth the money now, to enjoy your kids in the long term.
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