Help With Divorce, Finances And Advice

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tgm1974 | 13:24 Tue 06th Jan 2015 | Civil
19 Answers
I am after some advice for my friend as I am unsure how she is coping with her family life at the moment! I want to do all I can to help her so fingers crossed there are people out there with some advice.

To start with my friend is married with two children (5 and 8 yrs old). 2 years ago she discovered her step son had been abusing her daughter sexually. She does not think it is full sexual intercourse from what she has been told by her daughter but touching has been something that her stepson has definitely carried out to her. Her stepson has gone through some form of abuse program which is now at an end and this happened whilst her daughter was 6 and her stepson 12!!

My friend is no longer in love with her husband and has told him she wants to divorce. He is the financial bread winner at home and she works part time in the local primary school, probably earns about £600 a month. He is a Financial Advisor so is on mega bucks even tho he has just been made redundant. He says he loves her and wants them to rectify but she is adament this won't happen. She has moved out of their bedroom and into the spare room. He is very abusive and controlling of her in a mental way and screams/shouts at her for no reason or if he feels she is being unreasonable (ie : not wanting to be loving with him). The kids obviously see this but even when her parents visit he can have these episodes in front of them. He controls the paying of bills and most of the bank accounts are in his name. She has access to a "paying the bills" account, "shopping" account but she knows there is a savings account which he has just put in his name - she cannot find any information on this! In his heat of angers, he has told her that the "savings" money is he and not hers. He refuses to move out of the house and said he has no intention of leaving.

I'm just so upset for her about where she can turn. She does not have enough money to leave and rent another house plus without proof of what accounts he has then how can she try and contact a solicitor to ask for any assets to be shared - she has managed to save £3000 over the past 2 years towards any solicitors costs which he found by routing through her room when she was out one day. She managed to get this back claiming it was her Dads money, etc but this is how he controls her. She has nothing. He even has her iphone linked to the home computer so he can monitor her iMessages - should she switch that off then he will question her why?!!

What can I do to help? I feel so sorry for her. She was such a strong person who is so timid and low at the moment.


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Question Author
I forgot to mention that the incident with her Stepson has her husband denying he would ever do this - he is in total denial even though he has gone through this program and it is on his record. This was the nail in the coffin that put their relationship to bed!!
All you can do is be a friend. The decisions have to be hers.
And her first step should be to see a solicitor.

Would she be entitled to legal aid?
she could contact womens aid for advice,
Question Author
Yes I am being as best as friend as I can hence this post for more advice on where she may stand financiaally and legally. Just hoped someone out there had simliar experience?
she needs to take her and the kid's documents, the cash and go to her local homelessness unit. she can tell them that she is subject to domestic violence and they will immediately rehouse them (although this may be in a refuge to begin with.....but eventually she will get a council house - it depends on where she lives/ends up and the length of the housing list). the council have a duty to both her and the children IMMEDATELY to remove them and house them somewhere where he cannot find them. i then suggest that she reports the husband to social services regarding the controlling behaviour (as it is a form of abuse - emotional abuse - if directed at a child in any way, or they are witnessing the behaviour under the update of the children's act 2013. local safeguarding policy will state that they then support her and her children during the transition period and they may investigate the 12 year old stepson again as well). just because he has all the money and the perceived power does not mean she cannot leave the situation if she wants to do so. it may not be easy, pretty or what she ideally wants, but it is a legitimate and semi-solvent way out of the abusive relationship. but she should try and plan carefully to take documents, cash and as much as she can carry with her as it will be like wiping the slate clean. she will need birth certificates etc to claim benefits and prove the kids are hers. i have been in that situation and walked out of my first marriage without warning (it took careful but very quick planning)with £200, documents and one change of clothes. i effectively disappeared from his life and it was the best thing i ever did. sure - it takes a while to get back on your feet and can seem an impossible task (as controlling behaviour is very clever). but from your description, if she wants out, she should do it quickly, cleanly and at the first chance she gets. no homelessness unit can turn a woman away who claims domestic violence - they have to house them on that day they go to the unit. they then have too investigate everything after the woman is safe, not before, and if they say anything different they are lying. the charity women's aid can also advise her, but it is best to contact them when at work or from a phone box so he does not get a whiff of what's coming. it really is up to your friend, but this advice and opportunity out may be the push that gives her the courage to leave. sod solicitors, sod everything else - get her out of there FIRST and then everything else can be sorted after. she can also use the husband's denial of the problem as a risk factor to her two children.
forgot to add, if the dad is denying the sexual abuse, the son is carrying on as if nowt has happened and the two younger children are still in the house, they are at high risk of being abused again. if your friend finds that risk unacceptable to her children, she can legitimately remove them from the household as an emergency measure to get housed/settled.....and then sort a divorce/custody/maintenance out. but i would also go down the domestic violence route as that is what it is - and it will strengthen her position as the parent with initial custody.
oh - soory! - i give this advice as the wife of a (lovely!) homelessness officer who has extensive experience of dealing with domestic violence cases. women's aid are good and can offer advice, but the homelessness unit will provide immediate shelter and support for her away from him.
lcg has given excellent advice.
Now all your friend has to do is to take it.
Tough, but it will work and it sounds as though anything would be better than her current situation.
('tis free professional advice) x
Question Author
Thanks for the advice LCG, I will pass this info to her as soon as I know it's ok to speak freely.

The stepson situation was reported and social services did become involved so there is a track of that on record for her records incase she needs it. The stepson does not come anywhere near the house now even tho she succumbed to her husbands promise that he would monitor any contact his son had with his young daughter ... unfortunately things happened again to which my friend feels utterly guilty. Now her children have no contact with the Stepson, not even her younger son who her husband says should still have a relationship with the Stepson!!!!!

Anyway, she is just so protective of her children at the moment and tho no physical violence has occurred she wants as little disruption as you can imagine. They do live in a lovely home and have lovely surroundings so it would be a very big environment change for the children. If it was just her then she would have left ages ago.

I've been trying to research any way she can get any bank paperwork that he seems to be hiding but coming up against a brick wall. I've even said I would go down one weekend when he is back in a job and ransack the PC and house for her!! Desperate measures. I just hope she takes note of this advice and leaves before any physical violence comes into play!!
Who's name is the house in?

Our local police are doing a big campaign on domestic abuse at the moment. This includes emotional and mental abuse.
Question Author
I think it is in both their names but there is little equity in it as he has only been paying an interest only mortgage!!
Then they should have some sort of endowment policy. Interest only won't effect the equity.

Why doesn't she look into her rights about getting the mortgage paid if they split and chuck him out. She'll have her wages, be entitled to maintenance and working and child tax credits.

Why should she have to uproot the kids because she's being emotionally abused?
Question Author
This is my point ... she is so settled with the kids and did try to leave him at one point, putting them into a school nearer here (her original home) but the children wouldn't settle, she felt guilty they weren't close enough to see their Father and he made all kinds of promises! She allowed him to live in the house with her til last Christmas but now he refuses point blank to leave. She recorded his outbursts to her On her phone so she has some evidence of his ways!!

She's just trying to work it all out with minimum disruption but if she has to go then she says "all I want is a nice little place where the kids have their own bedroom, food on the table and enough to pay the bills".
If he is emotionally and mentally abusing her she could contact the police. They will advice her.

There will probably be upset regardless which route she choses.
ummm....the problem with that is that the house is in both their names. she cannot just chuck him out - he has every right to be there as she does (and if he is that much of a git/control freak, he will do just that). she will likely have to remain there in that house after failing to throw him out (she cannot change the locks either - as that is obstructing and she could get into legal trouble for that) and will not then be able to start divorce proceedings. her best bet is to go down the domestic violence route - a big upheaval yes - but she is damaging her children by remaining there in that atmosphere and with that behaviour happening. it isn't necessarily fair to sya that (as she is a victim too), but it is true. and as a survivor of that kind of home life, i left because i couldn't look my son in the eye anymore and realised i was failing as a mother by not leaving. domestic violence allegations will get her a safe, secure house somewhere away from him and she will be protecting herself and her chilldren by doing so. if her hubby is as sneaky and nasty as you say he is.....he should be given absolutely no warning of what is to happen at all as he will start hiding stuff, the abuse will probably escalate and he could try to prevent her leaving by threatening/harming her or the children. if she wants to leave, she needs to do it quickly and without warning. never mind the children downsizing from a lovely house - what they actually need is love and safety. nothing else matters.
as for contact/alimony.....let him chase her through the courts. it would seem that the only way she could get him to behave is by hitting him where it hurts - his wallet. and children do not have a right to see parents. they should only do so if safe and they are not in danger from them - emotionally or physically. she needs to toughen up and make a choice - stay and fester, or leave and fight.
she could try to get an injunction out against him - but what if it fails? she is then still stuck there. domestic violence is the ONLY automatic route to secure housing if she leaves him.....the local authority have to house her. it is a good option for her to take, unless she has absolute proof of him being physically violent, or him threatening to kill her/something equally serious.

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