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divorce

Separated Reflections

Posted on 29th October 2016 in children/ custody/ debt/ debts/ depression/ divorce/ ex-husband/ family/ money/ only dads/ onlydads

OnlyDadsI’ve been asked to reflect upon the experience of separation, how I handled it and if – upon reflection – I would have done things differently. The whole concept here is along a theme of ‘putting the children first’.

The questions are:

1. What did you do well?

2. What didn’t you do quite so well?

3. If you were to give one piece of advice to a parent going through separation what would it be?

4. How have the decisions you made then affected the life you are living today?

I’ve pondered this for a while. It isn’t an easy thing to look back on, and I wanted to be sure that my answers were honest and that I would only go ahead with the post if I felt it could be useful to someone else.

Here’s the thing, when I found myself in this position (out of the blue), I would have been desperate to read this kind of thing, there was literally nothing around at that point to tell me what to do, how to feel, what to think. And although, obviously no one can do any of those things for you, sometimes when you can feel the floor falling away from under you, you just need something, some shred of evidence that someone else has been through this and that they got through it ok.

So, my answers are:

1. What did you do well? Not much I don’t think. I wasn’t in control of my thoughts and so I floundered for a long while, taking advice from people who were ill-equipped to help. I did my level best to put the children first, in terms of caring for them, loving them, trying to retain some normality (some context: the house was being repossessed, my partner of 10 years had run off with someone he’d known for 2 weeks, I uncovered huge amounts of debt, my parter decided he needed to put his new relationship first, i.e. before the children). So retaining normality was hard, I was an emotional wreck with very little (almost zero) support but I tried to keep up with bedtime stories, walks, collecting leaves, play dates (while I sobbed in a supportive friend’s kitchen), and, I tried to facilitate my ex seeing the children. He would make plans, then cancel at the last minute, but I would still allow for new plans the following week and explain to my confused babies as best I could.

Actually, a better answer to question 1 would be:

It isn’t about you. It isn’t about your bruised emotions, your confusion, your pride or your finances, it is about the children. The innocents who need to be protected from as much of the impact as possible.

2. What didn’t you do quite so well? This little question is deceptively hard. I think I’ve touched upon a few things above so I am going to say that I should have sought better legal advice. I had a trainee solicitor who essentially told me I was screwed. She was no help to me emotionally or practically and as such I lost my home, my children lost their home and many possessions and I ended up responsible for a huge amount of debt. I don’t think I’ve heard of many other people who were dealt such a poor hand in this situation.

3. If you were to give one piece of advice to a parent going through separation what would it be? Time is a healer. Have faith that your personal wounds will heal and that the best thing you can do is invest time (not money/gifts etc) but time with your children. Make them feel loved and secured. If your ex is willing to have regular contact with the children, let them! Do not get caught up with petty arguments, point scoring and playing the blame game, let them feel loved by the two people who should love them.

4. How have the decisions you made then affected the life you are living today? I have a great life now but that is no reflection upon things at that time. If I go back say 6 months after he left, it is a very different picture. Then I was homeless, in debt, with very little support, even from the ‘system’. I was offered a, frankly, terrifying B&B (one room for all 3 of us, sharing a bathroom with strangers, you cannot be in the B&B during the day), which was in a completely different town to our old home, the children’s school and friends. At this point I literally couldn’t afford tea bags and toilet roll.

Now, the children don’t hear from him, he hasn’t seen them for at least 6 years (and the last time was for an hour even though he was meant to have been having them overnight). I still find that I beat myself up about the fact they don’t have a relationship with him – which is the main reason it has taken me so long to respond to the request to answer these darn questions!). I have to remind myself that it isn’t my fault he doesn’t see them, I have to remind myself that no matter how reasonably one person acts, no matter how easy they make it for another person to do the right thing, it doesn’t mean that they will. I am not responsible for his lack of responsibility.

One final piece of advice. When I was going through a particularly testing time, I decided that I needed some independent advice. Initially I went online thinking I was looking for a mums support group, or Homestart or Gingerbread, but I soon came to the conclusion that I needed to hear from a MAN. Someone who would be guaranteed not to be biased to my viewpoint, and that (along with being the reason why I am answering these questions) is how I ended up contacting OnlyDads and subsequently received some reasoned, grounded and sensible support from a man called Bob.

 

Child Maintenance Service – not impressed!

Posted on 5th April 2016 in break up/ bullying/ children/ CSA/ debt/ family

money in a binHaving suffered at the hands of the CSA I was actually quite pleased to hear that a new child maintenance service was being set up. Not so naiive as to believe that they’d be able to retrieve any payments from my ex-husband, obviously, but I did feel a glimmer of hope that they might have a more professional approach and greater powers available to them.

I was wrong.

It took an inordinate length of time for me to be able to transfer to the new service. This isn’t optional by the way, they just close your existing CSA case on an arbitrary date and unless you set up a new account with the CMS then that is the end of that and your ex gets away Scott free.

So, I jumped through the various hurdles to set up the new account and was advised during these conversations (it doesn’t take just one phone call, obviously) that they would take over and start afresh. As such I was asked if I wanted the arrears to be carried over or wiped off? Seriously, does anyone elect to wipe them off?!

Anyway, back to now, finally, finally, in March I received notification that they had decided what payments should be made and that I would receive the first payment on April 1 (I know, I know). Needless to say no payment has arrived. So I’ve phoned them today (twice, as the first time I failed their security questions…) and discovered that they felt I should have provided my ex-husband with my bank account details.

I should have given the man who has committed fraudulent acts, left me homeless and in debt, stolen from me and my children and my family, been abusive and has no regard or respect for me or my property – I should have given that man my bank account details?

Besides the fact that they had never asked me to do this and had, in fact, in January advised me that they would not expect me to do this given our history. Which the guy I spoke to today agreed was in the case notes, but said it was wrong and that I should never had been told it.

Their suggestion now is that I open a new bank account purely for receiving CMS payments. I asked if they’d actually had any contact with my ex and had any agreement that he would make payments? No, they said, but we have to give him the chance to.

Because 12 years of dodging payments isn’t enough of chance is it; let’s give the fella one more go huh.

Grandparents – Could You Save The Relationship?

Posted on 26th January 2012 in divorce/ grandparents

The statistic I’ve seen most of today is that ‘1 in 5 children from a broken home lost touch with a parent forever‘.

There are many reasons for this and I don’t want to get into the whys and hows as I believe that every case, every family, every situation and every child is different and has a right to do what is best for them.

So although you may be tempted to intervene, or to question a decision, you can bet that you don’t know the half of it and that everyone involved is hurt, confused and needs to make their own decisions in their own time.

If you are a grandparent, looking in from the outside, it must be incredibly tempting to take one side or another. Even more tempting to get involved and try to patch things up.

I’m wondering if the estranged grandparents could play a huge part in saving some of these relationships.

Rather than arguing with the ex partner to defend your child, think smarter and keep your comments in check (let off steam later in the privacy of your own home if you need to!).

Use the benefits of the wisdom you’ve gained over the years to see that someone needs to be a bridge between the two parties and therefore a bridge directly to the children.

Even if you are told you can’t see the children anymore, send cards, send notes, remember birthdays and generally keep in touch. Be polite if you correspond with the mother (or father as the case may be) whatever went on between them and your son/daughter they are now raising your grandchildren. Every now and then offer support – babysitting for example if you live near enough – one day your offer may be taken up. Even if it isn’t, over time you will find that the relationship is built up rather than broken down.

I’m not suggesting that you should be disloyal to your son/daughter in the process. Let them know you are keeping in touch, let them know why. Rather then fanning the flames when they are incandescent with rage about their ex, try and calm the situation and encourage them to take a long term view on the situation rather than a short term one.

I really think that, wherever possible, a loving extended family is best for the children.

However, having grandparents who are nasty about their mum (or dad) is emotionally damaging – if you love your grandchildren surely you can bite your tongue. Is it worth ‘scoring a point’ if the consequence of it is that you hurt and confuse the children?

So my plea to all the grandparents out there: build a bridge, you never know when someone might decide to use it.

 

 

 

Diary Of An Online Divorce

Posted on 12th August 2011 in Divorce Online/ Online Divorce

I have used www.divorce-online.co.uk @divorceonlineuk for my divorce and here follows an account and review of the process.

Sun 13 March 2011

I logged onto the site and filled in the questionnaire – it took around 10 minutes.

Mon 14 March 2011

The forms were ready for me to download, print, sign and return.

Tues 15 March 2011

I posted the completed forms.

Wed 16 March 2011

I received a message from Divorce Online to say that I had forgotten to enclose my marriage certificate.

Fri 18 March 2011

I posted my marriage certificate.

Thurs 24 March 2011

Message received: Your first set of Divorce papers have been received and checked for errors. They have been submitted to the Court where they will administer to your paperwork and issue the Divorce proceedings, usually within 7 working days.

Tues 5 April 2011

I received a message saying that the Divorce petition had been issued by the court and that my spouse should receive copies in the next few days!

Tues 26 April 2011

Message received: The Court has returned the Acknowledgment of Service form completed by your spouse to our office agreeing to the Divorce. This documents has been passed to a Case Manager to prepare the application for Decree Nisi to post out to you shortly. The Decree Nisi application consists of 1 page application form together with an affidavit which has to be signed and sworn by you personally. It   can be witnessed at either your local county court (free of charge) if you are in England and Wales or through a local high street Solicitor (nominal fee to pay charges vary).

Mon 9 May 2011

Received divorce papers to take into local court office to be ‘sworn’. No need to make an appointment, literally took me 5 mins to do!

Tues 24 May 2011 

Message received: Your complete application for Decree Nisi has been received in the post and has been sent to the Court today. This application will be placed before the Judge to review the application. Once agreed the Court will set a date for the pronouncement of the Decree Nisi (you will not need to attend this). The time between filing this application and the court informing us of the result can vary depending on how busy the court list is. We will contact you as soon as we have received a decision from the court.

Wed 8 June 2011

Message received: We have received notification from the Court that the Judge has agreed your Application for Decree Nisi and this will be pronounced on the 28 June 2011 at 10.00am – you do not need to attend this hearing as it is a rubber stamp hearing where the judge deals with many applications. If you have any property to deal with we can obtain 3 quotes for you from our panel of 120 firms. Simply call 01793 211 211 and ask for your no obligation conveyancing quote.There is no need for you to login to DivorceTrak at this time. We will notify you when we require any information from you.

Fri 8 July 2011

Message received: Your Decree Nisi certificate has arrived from the Court and will scanned and e-mailed to you. We will send the original to you at the end of your case with the final decree. We now have to wait 6 weeks and 1 day before we can file for your final decree ( Absolute). If you have not already done so we advise you to purchase a consent order to ensure that no financial claims can be made against either party once the divorce is finalised.There is no need for you to login to DivorceTrak at this time. We will notify you when we require any information from you.

Fri 29 July 2011

Message received:  Your Decree Absolute application is available to download.

Logged into the site and printed of the application. Completed and posted back with a cheque for £45 to cover court fees.

Tues 2 Aug 2011

Message received: Your forms have been received ready to submit on the 10th August 2011.

Tues 9 Aug 2011  

Message received: Your application for Decree Absolute has been submitted to the Court today. The Court can take 5 to 7 days to process this application so please be patient.There is no need for you to login to DivorceTrak at this time. We will notify you when we require any information from you.

Fri 12 Aug 2011

Message received: Your Decree Absolute Certificate has arrived in our office and will be posted out to you today. Your spouse will receive their own Decree Absolute Certificate directly from the Court. You will need to file this important Certificate somewhere safe for your own records. You are now divorced and free to re-marry!

There we go – my actual Decree Absolute is dated the 10th August, all in all it took almost exactly 5 months to go through and cost less than £500. The whole process was simple and I found it very reassuring to know that Divorce Online were in control of which forms needed to be sent where and at what time.

All the staff I encountered at Divorce Online were polite and friendly, I felt that I could ring them with questions.

If you have a straight forward divorce, with no property etc to split (or if you’ve arranged that yourselves) I would definitely recommend Divorce Online – I really can’t see the point in paying more elsewhere for the exact same thing.

Any questions feel free to ask me.   

D is for… Dealing with Debts

Posted on 19th May 2010 in adultery/ benefits/ counselling/ debt/ divorce/ house/ lies/ solicitor

If you are in debt and feel that you need some help, I hope that reading this will reassure you and offer some useful suggestions.

If you’ve read A is for… And then he left me you will recall that my ex husband left me quite hideously in debt. This was in 2004 which was just before the bankruptcy laws changed – I have to say if it happened to me now, rather than then, I would given serious thought to going bankrupt. Even in 2004 (when the after affects of bankruptcy were much harsher) every debt advisor I spoke to told me to file for bankruptcy.

So, he left on 9 July 2004 (the night before our youngest son’s 3rd birthday). I had no warning of this and, although people find it hard to believe, I had absolutely no idea that it was going to happen.

I knew we had debts, money had been somewhat scarce for several years as he had been frequently ‘off sick’ with a bad back and depression. We had re-mortgaged the house several times, once to consolidate all the debts – except that when the money came through he managed to convince me that he NEEDED some tools (although only dewalt ones obviously), that he DESERVED a playstation, and an x-box, and some games, and some new clothes, and we NEEEDED a new lawn mower etc. So only a small amount of debt ever got repaid.

His attitude to money was always poor. Even when he wasn’t working he would think nothing of spending £5 on a playstation magazine and then say that we couldn’t afford proper  nappies. I stood at the checkout in tesco more times than I care to remember with flaming red cheeks when my debit card was rejected, because he had withdrawn cash to spend on HIM without telling me and without caring if it left enough money for bills and food.

My mum set up a bank account and started paying £20 a month into it, she said it was for me to treat myself with, I didn’t tell him about it, it didn’t seem deceitful as I only ever spent the money on food shopping anyway. Once when I went to withdraw the £20 to use for shopping I was stunned to see there was no money available – when I checked further I saw that the £20 had already been withdrawn. I asked him about it, he said that found the card in my purse and we’d needed milk so he took the money out. The pin was my birthdate – he had guessed it. From then on he would wait for that £20 to land and whip it out straight away. He often drove to the cashpoint at just gone midnight to make sure that HE got the money.

Below is a list of the debts I was left with, this is just from the paperwork that I can find now, I think there were more:

Nationwide negative equity £12,000 – paid £4,600
Halifax overdraft £1,555.54 – paid £1,150
Barclays business overdraft £1,840.69 – paid £921
Barclays overdraft £974 – paid £750
Barclaycard £2,292.35 – paid £1,375.41
Debenhams store card £2,635 – paid £2,355
Dorothy Perkins store card £1,435 – paid £910
Capital One Visa £879 – paid £425
Capital One Visa £1,529 – paid £1,100
Business loan £5,000 – £2,000
Woolwich overdraft £1,841 – paid £1,400
Alliance & Leicester Loan £1,428.71 – paid £800
M&S store card £893 – paid £715
Thames Credit £932 – paid £800
Welcome financial services £781.20 – paid £781.20

As you can see, even with just the debts that I can remember, I was left with £36,016.49 of debt outstanding which cost me £20,082.61 to pay off. I’m pretty sure the total amount I spent paying off debts was closer to £28K so there must be a few that I’ve missed. It took me 6 years – the last debt was cleared in February of this year.

My ex took one debt, an Abbey National current account overdraft of around £700. This was in joint names but he made me sign the account over to him so that he still had a bank account – this, of course, left me without one and with a completely shagged credit rating which meant that I couldn’t get one.

My divorce Solicitor told me that I wouldn’t be able to assign any of the debts over to my ex. She advised me to go bankrupt. The CAB helped me set up a payment schedule – paying £1 a month to each company and advised me to go bankrupt. The CCCS agreed with the CAB.

I didn’t answer my home phone for several years unless I was expecting a call, as most of the time it was a debt company chasing money, I still find it hard to answer it now. Some companies are ok to deal with – some are terrifying.

What makes it even more complicated is that most companies sell on debts, meaning that it was almost impossible to keep track of who I had paid what to – I’m quite sure that I repaid some of the debts twice! For example – the £1,840 debt to Barclays was at one point being chased by Aplins Solicitors, DLC (Direct Legal & Collections), Hillesden Securities Ltd, Buchannon Clark & Wells and Ruthbridge Ltd. That is 5 different companies all chasing 1 debt. All 5 companies claimed theirs was a different debt and that I HAD to deal with them. Sometimes they phoned, sometimes they wrote, sometimes they sent baliffs round – mostly it was a combination of all three methods. Like most of the debts, this particular one was a joint debt so I gave all of them my ex’s details too – I had to laugh one day when a guy from Buchannon Clark & Wells rang me to say that he thought my ex was a complete c*** and that he knew someone who could ‘have a word’ if I wanted him too… Even funnier when my ex rang me the same night in a right state to say that he had just received a threatening phone call and it sounded just like the guy from BCW…

The point of this post is twofold, one to say don’t ignore your debts. They truly don’t go away they just get bigger and more unmanageable. Get a copy of your credit file – this is a huge step towards taking control, yes it will probably tell you things that you don’t want to know, but do you know what? The debts are there whether you acknowledge them or not! You can get one month’s free trial from Experian. Get an A4 ring folder and some dividers and make a file for each debt, then make an appointment to see a debt adviser. A FREE one like the CCCS. DO NOT PAY ANYONE TO ‘SORT OUT’ YOUR DEBTS! Either phone them or write to them asap. Tell them you are experiencing financial difficulties. Tell them your income and your outgoings – make sure you include everything that you have to pay out for. They will help you. If you have some money to repay a debt, NEVER repay the full amount – always offer a reduced settlement figure – 99% of the time they will either accept it or negotiate.

MY DEBT FILE!

Secondly – do not let your solicitor leave you with all the debts! I am so angry that my solicitor allowed me to be left in this situation. Now, 6 years on, my debts are all repaid. I will never have an overdraft or a credit card again, ever. I won’t let my new husband have them either. It isn’t always easy like living like that but we do. We currently rent a house as we now have to save up a deposit to buy, this has set me back massively in terms of ‘steps on the ladder’.

But, having said that, the past is all behind me now, I’ve learnt from it and I can concentrate on the future.

I am very happy to try and help if you have any queries that you think I may be able to answer – just let me know on the comments section below and I will reply to you.

UPDATE – 2oth May 2010 – To answer some questions that have arisen from this post:

1. The negative equity was from a flat that I owned before I met my ex. It was rented out but I had a few problems with tenants and often  had to meet the mortgage payment on that as well as on the house I shared with my ex. When he stopped working for frequent and ever increasing periods, my salary was insufficient to pay both mortgages. He persuaded me to hand in the keys – the second biggest mistake of my life – if I still had that flat and sold it today it would net me 85K profit.

2. All of the debts except the dorothy perkins/debenhams cards were in our joint names. However due to joint and several liability the debt companies had the legal right to pursue me for the entire debt. They chose to do that as because as a mother of 2 young children I was an ‘easy target’, threatening phone calls and visits from big scary men terrified me.

3. Why didn’t I leave him? That is always so hard to answer! I didn’t feel it was acceptable to leave him for being off work – he was depressed, you can’t leave someone for being depressed can you? I couldn’t leave him when his business failed – that was just bad luck, wasn’t it? I couldn’t leave him – because it was christmas, fathers day, mothers day, the kids birthdays etc etc. I couldn’t break my marriage vows – I came from a broken home, I didn’t want me kids to as well. But mainly, I couldn’t leave him because I didn’t have enough self esteem to realise that I should accept all his shit.


M is for… MADs!

Posted on 25th April 2010 in adultery/ benefits/ Blog/ caffe nero/ cats/ Cattery/ child/ Christopher Biggins/ coffee/ cream/ Cry/ customer service/ debt/ divorce/ doctors/ eczema/ Elvis/ Feral/ guarantor/ health/ house/ Itchy & Scratchy/ James Blunt/ Kreativ Blogger/ MADs/ Rihanna/ self esteem/ skin/ son/ starbucks/ steroids/ Take That/ Titanic/ Twitter/ Vets/ writing workshop

Blimey O’reily my name has popped up in the MADs list!

I wonder if it was my rants about coffee and customer service?

My frustration over my son’s battle with eczema?

My honest account of my recovery after the breakdown of my marriage?

Maybe it was learning that Dermot O’leary used to lay on my desk?

My tale of a random act of kindness?

Maybe someone liked reading about my cats Elvis and Maisy?

I doubt it was my infinite playlist….

Whatever it was I am very grateful to Twitter and the blogging world because it is really fun to share experiences with people, I’ve been reduced to tears (both of sadness and laughter) from other peoples blogs and I know I don’t stand a hope of winning with my 7 posts, but it is still pretty cool to take part!

If you would like to vote for me – I’d be delighted! Just click here and then enter my blog name www.coffeecurls.wordpress.com into the areas where you’d like to nominate.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE

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