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Self repping, assets, advise needed

Posted by Buncey 
Self repping, assets, advise needed
April 29, 2020 07:29PM
Hi All,
Great forum and now I'm after some specific advise. Please bear with me as it's a long one, but i'll try to summarise as much as i can.

Me 44 year old male. Her 50 year old female. Met in 2005. Married in 2008. Separated in Dec 2016. I moved out of the family home in Jun 2017. 2 children 10 and 12. Children live her and i see them overnight once a week and then at my (rented) place every other weekend (usually Friday to Sunday evening). Plus holidays and since the lockdown, I've had them for 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off.

STBX purchased a flat in 2001 (before we met). When we met I had my own flat. When she got pregnant in late 2006, I sold it and moved in with her for a few months whilst we were purchasing a family home. We re-mortgaged her flat in 2007 [i.e. me being on the deeds] and used the money (£150k) to put a deposit down on a family home (£550k) and the flat changed to a buy to let mortgage and was rented out. We married in 2008. I worked in finance, she worked for an airline full time until kids and then part time (before being made redundant in 2017). She could've gone fulltime, but chose not to. W had a joint account, that I contributed 99.9% to. Family home mortgage, bills etc came out of this account. Wife ringfenced the flat and mortgage came out of her own account and the income went into this account.
Buy to let flat has always been rented out. We did a loft extension in 2012 and although a large portion of the cost of the loft came from my wife (who had been squirrelling away the rent money) and her father, I did contribute by way of money I was contributing to the joint account (which was way in excess of our outgoings) was used to purchase items and trades for the loft conversion.

In 2009 i set up an activity company and ran it part time (alongside a fulltime job). Wife had very little involvement other than taking deliveries when i was out.

She issued divorce petition in October 2018 and after lots of information being requested by her (and sent) I issued court proceedings in September 2019 as her questions were getting more and more ridiculous and time consuming. Wife does not see the flat as a marital asset and when i said that I did (in the sole mediation session we attended), she said she wanted to see what she could get out of the business. Strange as I believed the business, flat, pensions etc all go in the pot, but she clearly believes that the flat is all hers - ignoring the fact that she couldn't have re-mortgaged it without me. She is also lamenting the loss of the £24,000 rental income (which her father has asked me how it will be replaced) if the flat is sold! The flat, especially now it has a loft conversion, is more than suitable for her and the two children. It has 4 bedrooms, gardens and a roof terrace and is closer to their schools. It is more than adequate for them. I am renting and still paying mortgage/maintenance. I have always maintained that I do not care which property she lives in, but one will have to be sold (unless she can buy me out). I have always said that all I wanted was my business (turnover c£90,000 pa) and the proceeds from the sale of the family home. Nothing about her pension or assets. This suggestion was ignored and she and her father went on a crusade to prove that my business is worth more than my accounts and Form E suggest (the same figures, prepared by my accountant, were used for the Form E). We had an FDA in Jan (which was a very expensive day out - solicitor and barrister in attendance) and all we got out of it was a court order to a) have business valued b) have our pensions valued and c) have our respective CGT liabilities valued. I have a money purchase pension and she has a final salary pension that she has had since she was 18. I have got rid of my solicitors because they were expensive and their lack of action has caused me to breach some of the court order (to the joy of my wife's solicitors). Wife has since been diagnosed with breast cancer and a mastectomy in March was successful, but waiting to see if further treatment is required. Wife originally agreed to a longevity assessment on the her pension, but has since refused due to cost. She has, however, asked me to re-consider taking her to court - FDR is on 5 August. Court was not the way I wanted to go, but I was getting nowhere with talking to her directly and the legal costs were mounting. She has made me an "offer" which doesn't touch pensions or business, but from the proceeds of the sale of the family home (we had an offer just below asking price last May, but she rejected it as she wanted to drag her heels), you is proposing to take back the £150 raised from the re-mortgage on the flat and then split the proceeds 50 50 and remove my name from the deeds on the flat. This would leave me with c£100k and her with several £00k, a flat worth £680k and a very small mortgage (which she could pay off entirely from her proceeds) plus child maintenance from me. I've rejected this. She earns, when she can work c£20k pa. I was made redundant and am struggling to get back into what i was doing before, so have considered a career change. If I get a job i'll be earning considerably less than I was before. My salary afforded us a pretty good lifestyle.

Questions - if we both decide to not go after each others pension and my business, can we go against/change the court order so that we don't spend £10,000 getting pensions, business and CGT valuations?

What would people suggest is a decent offer. She seems to be ignoring my housing needs and whilst hers are important, mine are to. With the offer she made me, I'll be lucky to get a 1 bedroom flat and my children will have a to share a bed/bedroom, which at their age isn't suitable.

I'm also self repping, so any advice on that greatly appreciated. I'm okay with acting as LiP at the FDR, but if it goes to a final hearing, should i get a barrister?

Thanks for your time and please ask if you need anything clarified.
Re: Self repping, assets, advise needed
April 30, 2020 10:36AM
Although this is a long post it does not say:-

1. What the value of the matrimonial home is and what the outstanding mortgage is,
2. Ditto for the flat.
3. What the pensions are worth.
4. What sort of business it is that needs valuing. For instance, does it actually have assets or what?

Without this information it is difficult to give a meaningful answer to your post.

For what it is worth 'her' flat is in fact a matrimonial asset because (a) at one stage you lived in it together and (b) your name is obviously on the mortgage. There is absolutely no doubt that asset will be taken into account no matter what your wife thinks.
Re: Self repping, assets, advice needed
May 01, 2020 10:31PM

Matrimonial home is valued at £975,000 with £300,000 outstanding. Flat is valued at £680,000 with £240,000 outstanding

Her pension is worth £300,000. Mine is worth £330,000

The business is an outdoor laser tag business - limited company. I am the sole Director and shareholder. T/o is c£90,000, assets (laser tag equipment) of c£60,000. Been operating at current site for 10 years and I lease the land it is on, so without the land I just have equipment and nowhere to use it. My landlord is currently planning on developing the area I'm in and my contract expires at the end of the year. Unlikely that they'll renew it if they are developing the land. Finding comparable land in the vicinity is nigh on impossible. Wife's father somehow values the business at £450,000 to £650,000. I dispute this, so we're getting it valued (once the latest accounts are ready).
Re: Self repping, assets, advice needed
May 02, 2020 05:27PM
Well, on those figures I don't think your wife has a cat in hell's chance of being able to ring fence what she says is 'her' flat. The value of this flat will undoubtedly be taken into account. Indeed, the value of the flat is so significant that it justifies the costs of taking it to court if your wife insists that it should be left out of the equation.

On the figures for the pensions I doubt that it justifies a pension sharing order. The modest difference in value can easily be accounted for with some cash adjustment in respect of the other assets.

Assuming the business is effectively just you and it doesn't employ a hundred people or something of that nature then what your father in law says about its value is nonsense. The business is very likely to be viewed as what you derive an income from rather than as being a capital asset to be divided. The views of fathers in laws like this are rarely helpful. His wrong opinion is just making it more difficult to settle.

For what it's worth the economics of this are such that it makes perfect sense to incur legal costs rather than agree to what your wife wants.
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