A cautionary tale of marriage breakdown and divorce. What can happen when an average couple with children and modest assets decide to get a divorce.
A story of marital breakdown and divorce
A couple with two young children have a three bed semi in a quiet suburb of a small town. They have a mortgage and the property has around sixty thousand pounds of equity in it.
They have no other major assets, the husband works to pay the mortgage and the other household expenses while the wife is at home to look after the children as she has done since stopped working just before they were born.
There is no family network near enough to help with the children and it is not economical to pay for childcare so that she can go back to work. She now decides that she wants to get a divorce. If one were being strictly equitable it might be expected that the house would be sold and the equity divided between the two of them.
This is very unlikely to happen unless the couple involved come to an arrangement between themselves that is acceptable to both. Even with modest assets (property, pensions etc) expert financial advice is vital in working through this most difficult part of the divorce process.
The courts and divorce
The courts are not concerned with what most of us may consider as fair when a couple get divorced. Their job, as laid down in very specific guidelines, is to consider the needs of those involved in a divorce. In such a case it will be found that the needs of the wife and children are much more considerable than those of the husband and it is almost certain that the matrimonial home be transferred to the sole possession of the wife even though the husband may have made all the payments on it.
Furthermore, young children almost always remain with the mother and this means that the settlement of capital and property to the wife can be disproportionate unless there are exceptional circumstances or the marriage has been very short lived.
Legal aid and divorce
A husband's woes may not end there because if his wife has been in receipt of legal aid because she has no income of her own – having stayed at home to look after the children – then the husband will be paying significantly more for legal advice for the divorce. Solicitors and barristers can charge up to twice as much for private clients than they do for those claiming assistance from the Legal Services Commission who fix the amount that can be charged for legal services.