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Covid, FMH and assets.

Posted by Finallyfree2000 
Covid, FMH and assets.
July 07, 2020 12:08PM
Hello, here for a little advice.

Our final hearing is fast approaching. The judge at the FDR was a complete opposite to the judge at the FDA. The FDA judge was understanding and listened to what each party had to say, the FDR judge was frustrated and didn't listen but looked at the bundle prepared by my ex's solicitors which included lots of inaccuracies. I am hoping the final hearing is able to look at all the evidence and resolve the matter fairly.

I have made many open offers that have been refused, my ex is making only without prejudice offers that I don't think are fair.

We are both of furlough due to COVID and I applied for a mortgage payment holiday on the FMH but my ex refused and she refuses to help pay towards the mortgage while I am on reduced pay (she lives with a long term partner in his home and has no bill outgoings only lesuire outgoings) I would rather we just have the mortgage payment holiday but instead we now have 3 missed payments and damage to our credit.

Because of my ex's recent actions and COVID, I now have to sell the property and I am no longer able to mortgage the home alone.
Here is where I need some advice.

The house values we had done varied from 120 to 140 (it was market at 145 but accept offers around 140) At the FDA I suggested a middle ground of 135, this was refused so I suggested a middle ground of 137,500. This was also refused at first as my ex is adamant the house is worth 150 (more than any estate agent value) but after the judge told her she would have to pay for a surveyor valuation she agreed to accept a value of 137,500.
Now because of COVID, the same estate agents have told me to be prepared to not sell the property for lower than was valued in spring 2019.

My first question, in my open offer I said we would market the house at 137,500 but revisit the asking price and reduce as needed if there is no interest, in the hopes that this process is not drawn out longer than it needs to be.
This was refused and my ex has replied they will accept to less than 137,500. I am worried about this being in any agreement becasue what if the property sits on the market for months and months? Can we have some agreement where offers over a certain amount are discussed or accepted? Given I am living in the FMH I could be the difficult one and refuse any offer to stay here longer but I just want this to be over.


My second question. I have a home improvement debt of 9k. My ex and I both have separate home improvement debts of 1.5k. In my open offers, I have asked that these debts are paid from the equity to the third party debtors before any equity is split. They refused.
However, they have no accepted that the 1,5k debts we both have in our sole names are cleared before any equity split but they refuse to accept the 9k in my sole name. This debt was taken out during the marriage and has added value to the home. It was in my own name as my credit was better at the time, but it would see me paying off this debt until 2031 (it is a long term high-interest loan).
My question, am I being unreasonable here to ask that the debt of home improvements on a home we will no longer own is paid off before any equity split? It has benefited our marriage and added value to the home so surely I should not have to bear the brunt of this or be in financial hardship paying it off for the next 10 years?

Finally.
We have a KC registered dog. I paid for the dog, cared for the dog, have receipts of the care for the dog for the last 3 years since the split etc. My ex does not want the dog, however, she is now refusing to sign over the KC paperwork and KC registered ownership of the dog. In previous letters, her solicitor has written that my ex is willing to sign over all paperwork, but now within a without prejudice offer, she has now refused.
I am so confused as we both want a clean break order in relation to other assets, pensions, other liabilities etc. But now she wants to retain the KC paperwork and KC registered ownership of the dog?
I understand the courts see pets as items/assets would I be able to bring up the paperwork for this dog at the final hearing?

My ex has retained the family breed cats but has chosen not to breed from them (they were purchased to breed from as high-end rare breeds) I have agreed to relinquish any rights to these 3 cats or income from the litters they produce etc. But my ex refuses to do the same for the family dog.

Thank you very much for reading.
Re: Covid, FMH and assets.
July 07, 2020 02:31PM
>>My first question, in my open offer I said we would market the house at 137,500 but revisit the asking price and reduce as needed if there is no interest, in the hopes that this process is not drawn out longer than it needs to be.

In any final settlement, whether you agree it voluntarily or it is ordered by the court, you should insist that any lump sum to be divided should be divided by way of percentage rather than by reference to any fixed figure. That deals with any fluctuation in value. If it has to go to court you should ensure that you have evidence of its current value before the court so that you do not start off being lumbered with having to market it at an unrealistic value.

>>My question, am I being unreasonable here to ask that the debt of home improvements on a home we will no longer own is paid off before any equity split?

No, you are not being unreasonable provided it can be proved that was what the loan was for and used for.

>>I understand the courts see pets as items/assets would I be able to bring up the paperwork for this dog at the final hearing?

Yes, although you should not just turn up at court with the paperwork. It needs to be flagged up in advance in good time so that it is included in the trial bundle. You cannot produce documents at the last minute otherwise you run the risk that the court will exclude them for lack of proper notice.
Re: Covid, FMH and assets.
July 07, 2020 03:01PM
Thanks for your reply.

In any offer, I have made I have written the spilt following the mortgage and home improvement debts as a percentage so that is good to know that was correct.
I am worried though what happens if we have no offers for the 137,500 that my ex will only except. I don't want this process dragged out much longer than it needs to be. From what the estate agents have told me we should be looking at offers around 130 so this could be on the market for some time.

In relation to up to date valuations. I explained this in a past letter but my EX's solicitor told me the value had already been agreed at the FDA and they would object any application to have it revalued. I just wanted to provide up to date estate agent valuations to ensure the courts had all the relevant information.


Yes, the loan is with a company that was solely used for home improvement and can easily be proven.
The split due to my ex keeping her pension is 55/45 in my favour. However, if this 9k isn't cleared by the house sale before the equity is divided and I have to pay it solely it will see me with less equity from the sale than my ex OR I will have to pay the monthly payments until 2030 which will cause financial hardship and affect my credit.


I have no provided any proof regarding the dog as it has up until now been written in any letters from my EX's solicitor that the paperwork would be signed over to me. She is happy for me to keep the dog she is just being spitful to not sign over the paperwork or the KC ownership.
If the court does not decide on this I will take matters further myself to ensure this paperwork is signed over to me. But surely given we both want a clean break and my ex doesn't want the dog a judge won't stand by and refuse to have the paperwork signed over to me?

My ex thinks I want to breed the dog, which was always a possibility given you can't buy this breed in the UK but breeding is more costly than buying a new dog and shipping it to the UK. In their latest offer the reason for refusing to sign over the paperwork is 'she takes the view that the dog is a pet and if you retain her she should not be used for breeding'. However, the paperwork or lack of does not prevent someone from breeding their animal. Surly she can not refuse this given she is happy for the dog to remain with me and the cats and other pets to remain with her?

I am really annoyed that the only aspects we don't agree on and need to take to the final hearing for a judge to decide is the paperwork for the family dog and the home improvement loan in my sole name being paid for before a share of the equity. It seems a total waste of the courts time. I can't understand it.


At the FDR my ex's solicitor wanted to make an application for costs to be paid by me but I don't even know what that means? I am self-representing because I have zero funds and they have a legal bill of £8200 already. I can't pay that.
Re: Covid, FMH and assets.
July 07, 2020 05:00PM
>>At the FDR my ex's solicitor wanted to make an application for costs to be paid by me

It means that they want to ask the court to order that you pay her £8,200 costs (and any further costs she incurs as a result of a final hearing). Unless you have been very unreasonable in the conduct of the litigation it is very unlikely such an application would succeed because the usual order is that each side pays its own costs.

Whether the value of the property was agreed at the FDA or not COVID has obviously supervened and you should provide evidence from an estate agent of what the property should now be marketed at. You should tell your ex's solicitor that, invite them to agree and tell them that you will make an application to the court to get updated valuation evidence if they do not agree.

I can't see that there is any real argument that your ex can make against transferring the dog to you. Whether you breed the dog thereafter is your business not hers.

On the subject of the 9K the only external factor likely to affect that would be if you earned, say, £100K and your ex earns £10K. Then you would be likely to be left shouldering the debt. Assuming there is no substantial income disparity of this nature then a debt for home improvements should in principle be paid off from the proceeds of sale.
Re: Covid, FMH and assets.
July 07, 2020 05:30PM
Thank you again, your replies are very helpful.

I have attended all hearings and wrote many letters and attempted to resolve the matter without the need for courts. My ex refused mediation and on the form, the reason was something like mediation would cause stress to my ex or something like that - apologies I can't remember fully.
I still think this should have been solved at mediation as the cost for this is almost equal to the equity she will walk away with. I have made many offers and originally wanted to buy her out but because of COVID I can't so I made an offer to sell which is what they wanted. I have tried to be reasonable all the way through. At the FDR my ex's solicitor refused to negotiate with me and then return to the judge told the judge I wouldn't negotiate which was incorrect. I think I have been reasonable so I hope I have behaved in a manner that shouldn't see me paying her legal fees. I don't have any funds to pay that which is why I represented myself as best as I can.


I raised this issue with them in a letter and they responded that they do not permit me to have any new valuations done, although the estate agents I spoke to are happy to provide an up to date valuation for me - I won't have time now to provide this to the courts but I will have the documents with me on the day to discuss my concern re the market price.
My recent offer has asked that we discuss offers below 137,500 but above 130 - I am trying to be reasonable.


>> I can't see that there is any real argument that your ex can make against transferring the dog to you. Whether you breed the dog thereafter is your business not hers. <<

I am very happy to read this, I hate to have to waste the judge's time with this especially given in previous letters they were happy to do so - the letters are all within the agreed bundle so am I able to bring this up on the day?


In relation to earnings - I earn 11k my wife earns 18k.

Mortage is currently 420 - rented accommodation in our area is £580-£690 so following the sale of the house I really can't afford to be paying £130 a month until 2031 for this home improvement loan.


I am really worried about this final hearing and I just hope it can be resolved.
Will the judge be annoyed at us for bringing this case to his courtroom over 2 matters that can be resolved outside the court?
Re: Covid, FMH and assets.
July 08, 2020 10:39AM
>>I raised this issue with them in a letter and they responded that they do not permit me to have any new valuations done, although the estate agents I spoke to are happy to provide an up to date valuation for me - I won't have time now to provide this to the courts but I will have the documents with me on the day to discuss my concern re the market price.

You must not leave it until the day. If you do that the judge may well refuse to admit your evidence. You should get written confirmation from one, and preferably two or three, estate agents giving their opinion of what the property should be marketed for under present conditions. You should then send these to your ex's solicitor in good time before any final hearing with an accompanying letter (of which you should keep a copy) saying that you want this information included in the trial bundle. If they refuse to do so you will then be within your rights to raise this at the final hearing producing a copy of your letter and the estate agents' opinions. If you do it this way a judge would be very unlikely to exclude your evidence and would take it into account but it must be done in this way. You cannot just turn up at court and produce documents at the last moment. If you do you run the risk they will not be admitted in evidence.
Re: Covid, FMH and assets.
July 08, 2020 11:13AM
Thank you.

I fear COVID is slowing down the post so I will get this done today.


I am very nervous for the final hearing - it is via video link.

How long would you expect this to take? No children and relatively straight forward just disagreeing on that one home improvement debt and the dog paperwork. I am worried the judge will be annoyed we are wasting his time.
Re: Covid, FMH and assets.
July 08, 2020 02:20PM
If the issues are this narrow then there is no reason why the hearing should take long.
Re: Covid, FMH and assets.
July 08, 2020 08:03PM
Hi, David thank you for your reply.

Can I PM you?
Re: Covid, FMH and assets.
July 09, 2020 10:30AM
Hi David.

In regards to the family dog. My Ex's solicitor wrote in a letter in April this year that ex was willing to sign over all relevant paperwork for the dog to me. This is not a without prejudice offer or anything, just a general letter to me.
Can this be used as evidence in regards to the dog's paperwork?

The only reason the Ex has changed her mind recently is that I raised issues of a second income she was not declaring to the courts. She is obviously annoyed about this and acting out because of it.
Re: Covid, FMH and assets.
July 09, 2020 10:37AM
Bearing in mind the dog lives with you and your ex doesn't want it I don't think there is much doubt that the paperwork for the dog should be signed over to you. As to the letter it may or may not be capable of being used in evidence. Without knowing the context of the correspondence it is impossible to be sure. And, no, I am not inviting you to give me the context. By that I mean actually seeing the relevant correspondence not just hearing your interpretation of it.
Re: Covid, FMH and assets.
July 09, 2020 02:57PM
Hi David,

Thank you for your reply. It is simply a general letter mentioning a few things and responding to my question re the dog's paperwork.
Your replies have been very helpful. Thank you.

I believe I have been more than reasonable with this process, I've made the other party aware of everything and even my new partner's income/liabilities as requested on the form E. I have attempted to value everything up to date and made multiple open offers in this hopes this can be resolved without the need for a final hearing but I doubt that will be the case now.
It seems silly to me to spend £3k at a final hearing to argue over a home improvement debt that has aided in increasing the value of the home since purchase 8 years ago by a large sum and over paperwork for a dog the other party openly does not want.

I will update you and the other forum members with the outcome next week.
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