Monday, 8 May 2017

Twenty Thousand Reasons

In my last post I told you that my proposals for the divorce included Ex Lax signing the house back to me in it's entirely and, in addition, giving me the sum of twenty thousand pounds.

I told you that on the face of it I agreed that this sounded greedy and grasping.

I also said that I felt I had good reason to believe that this was only fair and just.

I will explain now why I feel this way.

As I explained.  I had bought the house many years earlier with my ex partner Big D's Father.  The mortgage stood at £23000.

Unless you have read my blog for a very long time you may have thought that my dates don't add up.  You may have realised that in telling you I became pregnant very quickly in 2007 must mean that I have a child who would now be aged 19 not 18 as I have told you Miss Mac is.

You would be right.  In March 1998 I had a son, I've referred to him in the past as Master Mac but I haven't blogged about him for a very long time.  I will tell his story and the reasons why in my next post but for now I will just say that he is well, he is healthy and I love him more than words can say.

When Master Mac was about 4 months old I fell pregnant again. Again the pregnancy was unplanned and had a very sad beginning (you can read about it here if you wish).

After Miss Mac was born the government introduced  Tax Credits and Child Tax Credits meaning that I could change my working hours from full time to part time without incurring a huge change to my financial situation.

I really don't know how I would have physically coped with two children 13 months apart in age had this not been an option.  In those days maternity leave was 12 weeks when I had Master Mac and 16 weeks when Miss Mac was born.

It has subsequently been raised to 26 weeks.

So, back to the twenty thousand pounds ...

In 2002 after gaining another promotion I was finally in a position to raise my mortgage and buy out Big D's  dad's share in the house.

How incredibly patient he had been!  I will forever be grateful for this kind and caring man who has offered me his support and care through all of the years that I have know him and who remains a firm friend to this day.

The mortgage remained in my sole name and I continued to make every payment myself.

I also paid for all the childcare which at time was as much as £800 a month as well as paying the gas and electric bills from my wages.

Ex Lax's contribution was to pay the water rates (about £30 a month), the Council Tax (at that point about £60 a month), the TV licence (I think about £7 a month) and he bought the majority of the food although I still shopped on a regular basis myself.  Ex Lax was also mainly responsible for any expenses regarding the car.

Looking back this really doesn't seem like a fair division but at the time it was just what I did.

In 2005 we looked at raising the mortgage again.  The house in which I live is a Victorian terrace built just before the turn of the last century.

There are many things to love about this house.  It's not large, only 3 bedrooms.  The only bathroom is downstairs.  There is no off road parking and the garden is smaller than I would like.

But ...

The rooms are spacious.  Even the smallest room is big enough for a double bed and a few other pieces of furniture.  Miss Mac and I have made it into a beautiful room which I will blog about soon.

The ceilings are high giving an airy feel to the rooms and we are within walking distance of the town while still living in a fairly quite road.

There are also many problems.  These houses suffer with damp.  Even a damp course hasn't manage to completely eradicate it and I have had to use damp repelling paint downstairs.  Re-plaster parts of the dining room. Clad the bathroom (which is single skinned) and use a specialist mould killing paint on several ceilings.

There are unexplained drafts in most of the rooms and no floor or doorway is square.  In one alcove we have a display cabinet which on one side has risers that are about 2cm high under the legs so that it sits level.  But I'm used to these things, I don't mind.

I DO mind that since it was built there has been no major work (just a few repairs) to the roof.  In fact we have 3 roofs.  The main roof over the majority of the house.  A roof over Miss Mac's bedroom which extends from the back of the house and another roof over the bathroom which is at the end of the kitchen.

All of these have needed replacing for many years.

Extending the mortgage was intended to cover the cost of having this work done.

It didn't happen.  This was the first time I became aware of Ex Lax's debts.  This was the first time I paid off a substantial debt solely incurred by him (these debts predated our relationship and I had been totally unaware of them until now).

In order to raise the money to do the work to the house I had to add Ex Lax to my mortgage.  I didn't know until after doing this that his debts existed and now he had an asset, my house that creditors could take if he didn't pay them back.

His creditors became MY creditors.

I paid the debts ...

Foolishly I also married him that year (again, more on that later).

So now I had a much larger mortgage.  I now in fact owed more than I had bought the house for many years before.

Fast forwarding a few years.

In 2008 I was offered voluntary redundancy from my job in the civil service.

I had been working there for about 15 years steadily working my way up the ladder.  I hadn't reached any dizzy heights, I was at the bottom end of middle management but it was a good job with excellent conditions and great benefits.

The tide was beginning to turn regarding jobs in the civil service.  For a long time it had been an easy ride in many ways.  All the jokes your hear about civil servants do have a basis in fact.  That doesn't in any way detract from the very real work most departments do and the thousands of dedicated, hard working people it employs.

But it is true to say that compared to many ,civil servants had enjoyed all of those benefits and were cocooned from many of the difficulties others had to face.

As I said, the tide was turning.  Things were not as they were.  This was a good time to move on.  My pension would be protected and I was being offered a substantial sum in compensation.

The idea was that I would take a couple of months off to organise repairs to the roof etc and then look for another job.

I left my job at the end of March 2008 and on the 1st April 2008 my redundancy money was paid into my account.

I've talked about Tax Credits and that fact that they enabled me to work part time.  What I haven't mentioned is the real difficulties and problems Tax Credits caused many people in the early years.  There are many well documented cases where people were over paid resulting in huge amounts to be paid back. There were many mistakes made and these over payments were challenged and often found to be incorrect.

During the period between 1997 and 2008 Ex Lax and I separated  on several occasions due to his behaviour.  During these times I, when applicable, claimed Tax Credits as a single person.  This was well within my rights and, as Ex Lax refused to help financially during these times it was a lifeline.  I could not have supported myself and my children without them.

At some point the Tax Office queried the payments I claimed as a single parent.  They were not suggesting that there was anything untoward about them but they did request proof that Ex Lax was living elsewhere.  They wanted some kind of record, a rent book, anything that showed he was not living with me.

Ex Lax refused to provide this information.  He said he was living with friends, didn't have a rent book, paid them in cash (I don't know if any of this is true) and, on at least one occasion he told me that his friend was not supposed to sublet and wouldn't provide him with any proof in case he got into trouble about it.

Consequently the Tax Office informed me that ALL of the payments over those years would be considered an overpayment.  They sent me a bill for £11000.

I had no way of paying this bill and so it went to court and a charge for that amount was placed against my house to be paid at the point where the house was sold.

This still exists.

When I was offered redundancy my first thought was that I was now in a position to pay back this debt and have the charge removed.

Along with repairs to the house etc, it would mean that there would only be a small amount of money left but as I was going to look for another job anyway I felt it would give us a fresh start, a clean slate.

I was aware that a a couple of years previously Ex Lax had taken out a loan.  I don't know what it was for.  I have my suspicions but all I can say is that it was not to benefit his family.

I thought the loan was for £4000 because this is what he told me. He continued to tell me that was the amount until later. I also thought that as he had been paying it for a couple of years it must have been greatly reduced by that point.  I agreed that I would pay it off.

The day after my redundancy money came through Ex Lax told me he had debts of £9000.

I was shocked.

I didn't want to use my money to pay off this debt but such was his controlling and bullying behaviour that I transferred £9000 into his account. 

Later that SAME DAY he told me he needed another £2000 to clear his debts.

I transferred the money.

In one day he had taken the money I needed to clear the debt against my house promising me that he would work to pay it off now that he had no other debts.

Foolishly I believed him.

Later that month he wanted another £500.

A couple of months later he wanted to buy a new car.

He called me from the car dealership.  It wasn't a brand new car, it was a few years old.  It was still a huge step up from anything he had owned before.

When I got there all the paperwork had been done, all I needed to do was hand over my card and pay for it.

I didn't and still don't drive.  It never occurred to me that it was possible or sensible to have the car registered in my name.  I didn't know you could even do that unless you could drive.

I also thought we were buying a family car.  We were married. Why WOULD I think it was necessary?

I'll gloss over the next 18 months.  They are not part of this post but they will be a future one.

Suffice to say things were not good.  Things were very bad ...

In November 2009 I had no option but to tell Ex Lax to leave.

He was emotionally abusive and physically threatening.

I was worn down, scared of him and very unwell.

I hadn't worked since taking redundancy.  All of my plans for a better life were gone.

He took the car.  I asked for it back, he refused.  He paid no child support for a year threatening that if I persued it he would stop seeing the children (he saw them maybe 3 or 4 times during that year) and he would tell them it was my fault he couldn't seem them because I was a money grabbing bitch.

In March 2010 he took a job in his home town of Southampton.

The relief I felt when he left is impossible to explain.  I finally felt safe.

But I had no money, no job, no car and two very hurt and upset children one of whom was having problems at school with bullying.

I was also in a very poor state emotionally and physically.  I've documented some of my ill health here on the blog in the past without really going into detail about why I was so ill.

It was a very difficult few years and it got far worse.

But this is the reason for the twenty thousand pounds.

£11,500 of my redundancy.  Just under £5000 for the car.  Based on the subsequent CSA assessment roughly £4000 in unpaid maintenance for the children.

As for the house.  Well, I owned it for 12 years before I met Ex Lax.  I have made every single payment on the mortgage and the increased mortgage when we were together and since he left.  He was only on the mortgage and living in the house for 4 years.

Without me there would have been no house to start with.  There would have been no house to borrow money against to pay off his debts.  There would be no house now had I not gone without almost every luxury for the last 8 years in order to pay the mortgage.

If he gets nothing more from it he has already had thousands of pounds of personal debt paid off from it.

I will still be left with a substantial mortgage to pay off, a mortgage that wouldn't exist at all had I never met him. I will still have an £11000 charge against my house after the mortgage is fully paid off.

I should be mortgage free.  I should have a new roof and other improvements to the house.  I should have money in the bank.

Ex Lax as mentioned before is on holiday.  His second holiday so far this year.  He is living in his girlfriends house.  They now have a combined income far above anything we have.  He is having some of Miss Macs maintenance diverted claiming he is supporting his girlfriends 16 year old son.  He has managed to run up another £10,000 of debt.  He claims he drives a car worth less that £400.

You have to make your own minds up about what is fair.

I know how I feel.


joeh said...

Have a good, nasty lawyer on your side, never mind the cost, it will be worth it in the end. I'll bet there are a lot of things he could be threatened with that would scare him into dropping his requests. Alimony, back child support for starters, I don't know, but lawyers have a way...don't go into this with a peashooter, it is worth it to have a howitzer by your side.

SARN said...

I'll man the Howitzer fir free!!!; Xxx

Val said...

Lawyers are costly, but I think Joe H is right!

Sarah said...

There's a lot of talking to be done Joe and a lot of information to provide. I feel my case is very strong but the law doesn't always work in the way it should. I'll know more soon I hope.

Lol, thanks Sarn, might just take you up on that :-) xxx

Joe is righ Val, we need to go in hard. The cost obviously worries me but SD says we will find the money somehow. I just can't afford to spend more than I gain.

Di said...

I'll help Sarn with the Howitzer - and you can forget the cost of the hair dye, I gave up on that a while back anyhow :)

Like others say, you can't afford not to fight back - too much to lose.


Di xx

Sarah said...

Thanks Di. I'm happy to add the cost of hair dye to my claim if you change your mind ;-). I'm a little battered by it all right now but I'm regrouping and I'll come back stronger. This is too big, too important, if has a knock on affect for many others. I'm fighting this all the way lovely xxx