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Fair expenditure

Posted by Momo 
Fair expenditure
May 22, 2022 06:18PM
Hi Folks
I have a question about what l can reasonably take out of the FMH before our divorce proceedings begin?
My wife and l have been married for 16 years (2005) and our relationship ended in 2018. I know it won’t make any material difference but since we married l have basically paid all the mortgage on our property, all subsistence, all holidays etc.

When our marriage stopped subsisting l paid for my wife to live at our property until she left in 2019 to return to her country of origin for a 1 year sabbatical, returning to live back at the FMH in 2020 when covid struck, until she left for the Netherlands in summer 21.
During her absence in 2019 l had to pay her debts from our joint bank account to the tune of circa £500 p/m as well as shipping on her clothes and effects.

Our property is worth approx £230k with £60k left on the mortgage. I now live there and am sole person on mortgage.
I want to be reasonable with my ex when making a financial settlement however feel that to just remortgage and give her half would be unfair. The property badly needs some refurbishment, in large part due to my inability to afford whilst subsidising her. Plus l want a new car and haven’t bought one for the same reasons up to this point. I owe my mum £8k for my current vehicle which l want to pay back from this too and can show evidence she paid.

Ex now lives with a new partner in Netherlands who anecdotally has money, plus she owns a property in her country of origin which although l have no way to force her to include l think would be fair leverage.

I am thinking about taking some equity out of the property and spending the money on renovating the property and part exchanging my car. My question is whether this could be legitimately argued as reasonable to enable me to live in and fair so as to have a means of transportation or whether l would be seen as reducing her side of the settlement?

Another, more severe option, would be to remortgage and move about two thirds of the equity somewhere off shore so she could not get it nor could UK courts but l fully expect then to have the courts take a dim view. (I don’t really care whether they take a dim view or not frankly as on a point of principle, if you pay everything and do so much for someone, l can live with being accused of being the bad guy).

But as l said, ld rather be fair and give her closer to half minus the above necessary expenditure that is long overdue as a result of her unreasonable behaviour.
Grateful for your advice please?
Re: Fair expenditure
May 22, 2022 07:01PM
You do not say whether the former matrimonial home is in joint names or not. If it is then you can forget about remortgaging because a remortgage will require your wife's signature. However, I assume it is not because you say the mortgage is in your sole name. Even if it is not in joint names your wife could prevent you remortgaging (and should) by registering a Matrimonial Homes Act notice against the property. This is a long marriage. The starting point for the division of equity does not cease to be half because of the things you would like to do.
Re: Fair expenditure
May 22, 2022 09:00PM
Thank you for your reply. I am the sole person on the mortgage and deeds etc. As such I’m entitled to consider releasing equity to ensure l have a suitable dwelling. I am not intending to be unreasonable and am within my rights to do so. If my wife wishes to prevent me from remortgaging she has the above recourse to do so as you rightly note. If she does not then l think l could reasonably argue retrospectively that the release was necessary to pay for maintenance and upkeep that could have been undertaken earlier, had l not been forced to subsidise her debt payments and provide shelter for her during covid having left me without any care as to my ability to do so. Thank you for your reply.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/22/2022 09:24PM by Momo.
Re: Fair expenditure
May 23, 2022 09:50AM
Your wife would be well advised to apply for a Matrimonial Homes Act notice against the property in order to prevent you remortgaging. I should also tell you that if you do remortgage and use the funds as you have said then you run the risk that in due course a court will order a sale and divide the proceeds upon the basis of counting back in towards your share what you may have spent or tried to put beyond the reach of your wife. You have already said you don't much care what the opinion of a court is. The reverse of that is that courts do not respond well to people who try to frustrate them and act accordingly.
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