Questions & Answers for March 2015
Q. My husband and I met at university when we were both 20.  Now, at 51 he has left me for another woman. My job has always been better than his regarding salary and I am now at the top of my game career-wise. We were drifting apart anyway so apart form a bruised ego I feel very little emotion saying goodbye to our marriage.
 
I just need to make sure I don’t get short shrift in this divorce. Our children are grown up. Does the fact I have always paid 75% of the mortgage and our house has been mortgage-free for about 5 years mean I will get more than 50% of the sale of the home?

And what about our joint savings?

A. It sounds like you have made the first step in the divorce process and that is acceptance that your marriage is over. There are very few people who can leave a relationship completely unscathed so if a bruised ego is the worst of the damage you have done well! You must also remember that although you may feel little emotion saying goodbye to your marriage at this stage the divorce process may dredge up some unwanted feelings. This is completely normal and to be expected! Walking away from such a long relationship will never be easy, even if you are at peace with the decision.

As regards your legal position, the best thing you can do is to obtain legal advice from a family law specialist and they will be able to guide you through the process We have seven offices currently throughout England and we offer free legal clinics at each of them.

You can also download my book Divorce and Splitting Up, it is available for 99p and all proceeds go to The Children’s Society. I have recently released my second edition and this will provide you with much more detailed information and give you a good idea of the advice you can expect to receive from a solicitor when you do go to see one.

The financial remedy process begins with both you and your husband providing full, frank and clear disclosure which will provide you both with a picture of what is available (assets and income). You then need to consider what your reasonable needs are; your solicitor will help you with this.  If you and your husband cannot come to an agreement the Court will look at what is available and what you both reasonably need, and will split the assets accordingly, including the equity from your home and your joint savings. The starting point is a 50/50 split but I must reiterate that this is only the starting point. The Court has extremely wide powers to Order what it deems fair. Whether you will be able to present a contributions argument will largely depend on what is available. If there is enough to meet both of your reasonable needs (and if your husband is going to live with this other woman then she too will be expected to contribute to their outgoings although not to yours)  then you will have a stronger basis to present your case that you contributed more to the marriage financially and should therefore receive a larger proportion of the assets. Without knowing the specifics of your financial situation, I cannot, of course say whether this will be the case for you but you could always propose 60/40 and see what he says. The key will be to try and stay on reasonable terms. He may be feeling guilty and prefer to settle with you.

Overall, you sound as if you are approaching the situation in a very healthy and realistic manner. You have a flourishing career but do remember it will take you time to get over this. Take each day as it comes, step by step. I wish you all the best as you move forward with this new chapter of your life.

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"Walking away from such a long relationship will never be easy, even if you are at peace with the decision."
 
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