Article | Fabulous Women

My husband says if I leave I will be left penny less.

Posted on 25/07/2012

My husband and I have been married for nearly 20 years. We have had our problems for some time now.

We have two children who are both still at school and I think I have always had in my mind that I had to stay, for them. I have, however, now reached a point where I can't stay any longer; it is affecting the children and my health.

The main problem has been, throughout our relationship, my husband's infidelity. He has certainly had one affair; there may well have been others.

He has always been the breadwinner and is a high earner which is part of the problem I think; he is married to his work.

I have finally told him that I think the time has come for us to go our separate ways and he has said that he has earned all the money since we have been together and he will make sure I am left penny less if I leave.

I can't believe he will see me and the children struggle but he is very dominating so I can't help but think perhaps there is a possibility he will leave me destitute while he continues to enjoy a life unchanged.

Sadly, I hear quite a lot of these sorts of threats; they are far from helpful and can create a real sense of panic during what is usually an already difficult time.

First things first, your husband cannot leave you penny less.

There are many different factors that we will consider when we are looking at the finances.

In your case, the following stand out:-

-Your marriage has been long.

-You have two children.

-There is a big difference in your respective earning and mortgage capacities.

The priority will be the children. You do not say that you are their main carer but given your husband's work commitments (and you do not mention your own) I assume you are. That will mean that one of the first things that must be provided for is a home for you and the children, most likely mortgage free.

Your husband will also need a home but it is likely that he will have a greater mortgage capacity than you and therefore it may not be necessary for him to rehouse mortgage free.

You should consider whether it is reasonable for you and the children to remain living in the current family home or whether it should be sold and an alternative property purchased.

We would need to think about the following:-

-Does the family home meet or exceed your needs?

-Is there a mortgage secured on the family home?

-Can the mortgage payments be afforded?

-How much would it cost for you to rehouse in a suitable alternative property?

-What are your respective mortgage capacities?

The starting point for a capital (e.g. the family home) division is a 50/50 split.

However, there may be compelling reasons as to why equality cannot be achieved.

Often "needs" mean a 50/50 division just will not work.

It will be a case of analysing what your needs are and how those can best be met. It may be that you need more than 50% of the capital.

If you stay in the family home, it may be appropriate for your husband to have a Charge over the property which means he gets his share at a later date say, when the youngest child finishes university, for instance.

There is also the issue of maintenance. It is very likely, based on what you have said, that your husband will need to pay to you spousal maintenance until you die or remarry.

In addition, he will need to pay child maintenance.

Also, if your husband has a pension, it is likely that you should have the benefit of a Pension Sharing Order so you have the benefit of equality of income on retirement.

I am concerned that you say the breakdown in your relationship is having an impact on the children and your health. I suggest that you take some legal advice from a family law specialist (see so your decision can be informed and you can start looking to the future.

Rachel Lemon is an Associate Solicitor in the top ranking and highly regarded family team at Mundays LLP. You can contact Rachel Lemon on 01932 590 612 or at

This document is for information only, it does not intend to provide legal advice. Mundays LLP accepts no responsibility for loss which may occur from reliance on information contained in this document.


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