Financially supporting my ex-spouse - what's fair?
February 22, 2015 10:00 PM   Subscribe

Please help me come up with some ideas about what kind of spousal support is fair. I've been the primary breadwinner, but he has NOT been home with the kids.

First off, I have a good lawyer and am consulting with her, along with a trusted financial advisor. They are able to give me good practical advice. But what I'm looking for is different perspectives on what is kind, fair -- and smart -- in this situation.

I recently separated from my husband of 16 years. It was not mutual; he was completely against. One of the main reasons for my unhappiness was his lack of financial stability; I was the breadwinner throughout our marriage while he tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to establish a career. He took and quit numerous jobs, went back to school, and opened several businesses. He's now been self-employed in the same business for 4 years and it only recently started turning a profit. He brought home about 20K last year; I brought home 80K.

Our kids are 10 and 12; he's never deliberately stayed home with them (not counting the times he was unemployed or off for the season; his business is seasonal). They've been in full-time daycare and now school their whole lives.

I'm told I will be liable for spousal support until my ex's income becomes closer to mine. I feel he should waive spousal support and get his act together.

We have 60K in personal debt related to his business. I will be liable for half of this. We have no other real debts and our only material asset is our house.

My ex wants to stay in the house, but cannot afford to buy me out and will not realistically be able to do so for years (he has no credit and has not shown much income for several years). He probably can, however, take over the mortgage payments and carry the household bills. If I force him to sell the house, it will be a long, long time before he can establish the credit to get a mortgage on his own.

I don't want the house and am not interested in buying him out. I would rather sell it and buy something smaller. I'm currently renting an apartment but don't want to do that forever.

I am thinking of allowing him to assume the payments for awhile, but mutually decide on a date to sell it, perhaps one year from now. Should I get any compensation for this? Are there any reasons why this might be a bad idea? When it does sell, should the distribution of equity be anything other than 50-50?

Any other suggestions for how we can manage this would be appreciated. I am trying to be kind to him but fair to myself.
posted by puppet du sock to Human Relations (36 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I just realized I didn't explain the reason for waiting a year to sell the house. It's because my ex's business has just started to become profitable and he wants the stability of keeping the home in order to keep the momentum up (his season starts up next month, and listing/selling in the upcoming months would be a huge disruption). For our kids' sake and my own, I would like to see his business succeed. I want him to be in a good place financially. I think that staying in the house would help him with that.

Then again, I have been enabling/supporting him for 16 years...and I'm pretty damn tired of it.
posted by puppet du sock at 10:07 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I tend to think that spousal support is not about what should have happened, but about what realistically has been happening between partners. I'm sure that it was frustrating that he was not earning more money, but you were a family unit and he might have made different choices had you not been a family and had your income not been a factor. "Getting his act together" is not a really good reason to waive spousal support; it's pretty much the entire reason spousal support exists.
posted by jaguar at 10:31 PM on February 22, 2015 [28 favorites]


I get where you're coming from, but traditionally, this is exactly the situation where spousal support is needed - one spouse took a risk with their career while the other spouse took stability, and together you shared income that met your combined needs.

If the genders were reversed, and the lower-income female spouse were a struggling artist, many would automatically approve of the spousal support.
posted by samthemander at 10:47 PM on February 22, 2015 [22 favorites]


Your post seems to imply that you left him because he wouldn't get his act together, yet you mention him trying and going to school etc and also mention that whenever he was unemployed he did stay with the kids..all which implies that he was indeed trying his best. So it's hard to know what's going on here, but you seem to be saying that you feel this spousal support is unfair because he is lazy and not wanting to put any effort in- including towards raising the children.

Spousal support doesn't really factor in things like what you FEEL the other person should be doing. It's really more about numbers and how they add up. These are things you should've discussed with your divorce lawyer.
posted by rancher at 11:11 PM on February 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


Did he ever stay with the kids, or was he just around? I understood you to be saying he actually took on almost no child care obligations, even when he was home. If so, that stinks.

Nevertheless, I think smartness and kindness need to trump fairness. I think you're right that your and your kids' long-term good will be better served by his financial stability. If his business is finally enjoying momentum but suffers, partly as a result of an inopportunely timed sale, you might never hear the end of it from him - or worse, from your kids. (The last thing you want is to provide any fodder for "poor Daddy" stuff, given the decision to divorce was yours.) I also think doing whatever you can to minimize the possibility of additional antagonism being introduced to this already difficult process is very smart. If renting for a year means the next ten would be relatively bloodless, I'd say it's worth it.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:57 PM on February 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


To be clear, we can't tell you what's fair. We haven't lived your life for the last 16 years, so we have no idea what your husband, or indeed, your behaviour was. If you want to know what is legally fair, then your lawyer can tell you that much better than we can.

If you do want an individual impression based on the story you've told, honestly, it seems like setting a deadline for selling the house feels a little unfair to me. But, again, that's based on a handful of paragraphs you've written on the internet.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:04 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I can't speak to your individual case, but from my own divorce, my firm stand is that a marriage is what both people allow it to be while they are married. You can't continue for years with a state of affairs and then decide after it ends that your settlement should reflect what you wish you had changed during the course of the relationship. (exceptions for people in extremely uneven power situations, of course)

Have you looked into a professional mediator? They take a different approach than lawyers, and may help you both make a plan without as much anger about the past attached.
posted by frumiousb at 1:15 AM on February 23, 2015 [10 favorites]


You sound angry and tired, which is a completely human reaction. I'm not divorced, but one of my good friends is a divorce attorney, and I've heard many stories. At the root of it is this: when there are kids involved, you need to set the past and prior wrongs aside and focus on the life you want for your children and your co-parenting relationship with your ex. Making him feel small and vulnerable is not going to help this.

Look at the numbers. Be realistic about his ability to pay off debt, especially the mortgage, and what staying entangled would mean for you should he default. In your shoes, I would prioritize keeping the house and be willing to negotiate on the other factors. This needs to be a financial decision, not an emotional one.
posted by snickerdoodle at 3:54 AM on February 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


He doesn't need an income close to yours, he needs to be self-supporting. 20k and able to maintain a decent residence is very close to self-supporting, so you might be pretty much done if his next season goes well enough. This is a different situation than one in which he gave up career options in your favor and he's really not entitled to be supported at the level he's been accustomed to like he would if he gave up his career for yours. That said, you're still likely to be on the hook for child support if you have 50/50 custody. If he's supporting the kids' primary residence, you're probably going to be on the hook for substantial help.

The house is a different matter and it depends on a lot. If you can afford an apartment, I'm inclined to think that he can, too. I'm also inclined to think that you're entitled to equity from your house but a judge may not agree.

Do you have a good attorney? You need one yesterday.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 3:59 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I agree with everyone that this is what spousal support is for. However, also keep in mind that having a financially stable father, even if the financial support is from you, is in the best interests of your children.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:40 AM on February 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


The great thing about this is that the family courts have calculations for this. It's awesome! You don't have to worry about what's fair or who did what and how, a disinterested third-party will do it.

That said, you can negotiate with your husband for what makes sense going forward. Personally, I'd insist on selling the house and getting him into an apartment he can afford on his own. My reason, what if the roof needs to be replaced, or the furnace goes? He doesn't have the resources to take care of it, and at this point, neither do you. And that's what I'd base this on. If you're supporting the kids, AND him, you can't also support the house.

Is there equity in the house? If so, I'd press the issue so that you can pay the debts you've incurred on behalf of the business.

Disentangling yourself completely from each others finances is the MOST important thing. You want to insure that the debt that is in both of your names is paid in full, if selling facilitates that then so be it.

But discuss with your lawyer. This is not her first rodeo, and she knows all the angles.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:05 AM on February 23, 2015 [11 favorites]


As Ruthless Bunny says, there are calculators for this. Here's an online calculator based on the Canadian support guidelines. It may help you to have a hard, "objective" number to help determine what's "fair".

If you use the calculator to calculate total support, you'll notice that you've left out the most important detail: Who has custody of the children, or is it shared? The wellbeing of the children is the most important thing. If you have sole custody, and you're carrying all the daycare costs, the amount of child support that he'll owe you might well be more than any spousal support you owe him. But if you're sharing custody and splitting childcare costs, it might be fair for you to pay him both childcare and spousal support so that the children aren't living in poverty when they're with him.

However... you haven't said how he feels about it, other than that he wants to keep the house. He may feel - many men do - that it would be too much of a blow to his ego to be supported by you. Or he may feel vindictive because of your affair and demand as much money as he can get. What feels "fair" to him might end up having nothing to do with money, but more to do with pride and hurt. It's worth finding that out.

The situation with the house and the debt obviously adds complications. A good mediator who talks to both of you sympathetically might be the quickest and easiest way to help you both come up with creative solutions that solve the house problem, the debt problem, the spousal support problem, and the child support problem all at once.
posted by clawsoon at 5:33 AM on February 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is good that you are working with a good lawyer. He can no doubt give you better advice than any of us.

The laws and rules on this kind of thing can vary greatly based on the locale.

Does you ex- have a lawyer yet?

The only specific thing I can think of is that you may have some leverage here, in terms of selling or not selling the house, the taking on of debt, and perhaps other things, which you might be able to use to negotiate for other matters, such as custody, or even who retains possession of the house. Indeed, it might make more sense for you to stay in the house while he goes and finds an apartment?

But practically speaking, I think you will need to start with whatever your lawyer tells you, and work from there.

Inshallah.
posted by doctor tough love at 5:50 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Another advantage of a mediator: If your ex is only making $20K, he's unlikely to be able to afford a good lawyer. You will not be able to come to a fair solution simply because he won't be getting good legal advice. A good mediator will hear the concerns of both of you and is more likely to come up with a solution that leaves you feeling like, as you put it, you've been "kind to him but fair to myself".
posted by clawsoon at 6:00 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


I would disentangle financially sooner rather than later. If he can't afford the house, then he can't afford it. The idea of him paying you equity "years and years from now" when you have half his business debt to pay *right now* is continuing his unrealistically optimistic financial planning dysfunction that has been dragging both of you down. If he is insistent, perhaps suggest he find another co-signer. Maybe having several other people tell him they are unwilling to support him will re-enforce the message that your position is not unreasonable. Or, maybe a family member will step up, you get off the mortgage AND get the business debt paid and your half of the equity and it won't be your problem.

Can you get some wiggle room in your credit to completely separate your finances and have him just pay for his own rented apartment? You then take over the mortgage payments (on top of your own rent, I know, ouch) and get the house on the market and sold ASAP. If he is out of the house he won't have to do the selling/staging and can focus on his business and an empty (staged) house is easier to sell. Keep track of these expenses you are occurring (mortgage payments, realtor fees, repairs etc) and have a written agreement that you will be disbursed from the proceeds of the sale before equity is discussed. Personally, I think the whole $60,000 business debt should come from his equity but I am sure your ex can rationalise why it is a joint debt and the law may be on his side. I would also push back very hard on spousal support for a spouse that choose to be unemployed and had control over how much income they have claimed for four years in a self-employed business. Unless you were intimately familiar with the ins-and-outs of his business I would float the idea of forensic accounting to make sure you have the true picture of his money.

A mediator is a good idea, as is a therapist that can help you negotiate the non-legal aspects of co-parenting. Perhaps I am projecting but it sounds like your ex never really "took" to adult responsibility and left you both the breadwinner and default parent. And he used your time, money, and energy to afford the luxury of "finding himself" while you and the children picked up the pieces. A new, healthier dynamic takes a bit of work to create. At 10 and 12 the children can choose who they wish to live with and having a therapist will help you both accept their decisions.

I wish your family well on the new beginning.
posted by saucysault at 6:21 AM on February 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


Sorry, I missed that you have a lawyer. Listen to them and don't concern yourself too much with fairness. If he's genuinely bad with money, and you're not, you want to control as much of it as possible. You might also reasonably demand an ownership stake in his business and then give that up in exchange for him taking on ALL his own business debt or forgoing spousal support. In many jurisdictions, if you funded the business as a marriage, the business is owned by the marriage, and it in fact is not fair for you to be responsible for funding it but not getting an ownership stake.

The divorce pattern I see is women worrying about fairness and men worrying about themselves. Don't do this.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 6:22 AM on February 23, 2015 [30 favorites]


Oh, and I am in Canada where spousal support is normal and has specific guidelines and very easy to get. It would be really hard for him to advance a claim for spousal support based on him just having seasonal self-employment. He would be expected to be putting effort into fully supporting himself year-round, especially with him quitting so many jobs and launching failed businesses, so looking for spousal support (is he even floating that or is your lawyer just letting you know it is a legal possibility?) would be looked at quite harshly in my experience. Your lawyer will take their cue from you, so let them know what you are looking for in an ideal settlement.

On preview, internet detective has an *excellent* point about a stake in his business. It is true you have provided the majority of the capital and start up costs and should be compensated.
posted by saucysault at 6:29 AM on February 23, 2015 [6 favorites]


I can't speak to fairness, but I can say that I was in your position (10 years in, no kids, he spent 4 years 'starting his own business' and unlike your ex, got nothing done save one client who called him every couple of months for minor work), and whatever you do, get the details in writing and set deadlines. (You're "lucky" in a way [only a small way, heh] - you're married, so y'all have to get the details in writing; we weren't married and didn't do paperwork and tried to keep things as casual and friendly as we could, and I've made some bad decisions based out of trying to be kind and fair, but in the end, I made a bad deal; I'm still paying part of his bills 19 months later, and he did not respond to the last email about selling the house two weeks ago. Guess what I need to do today...) Set deadlines, and stick to them - otherwise, it's going to be easy for everyone to drag this out way longer than it has to.

My reason, what if the roof needs to be replaced, or the furnace goes? He doesn't have the resources to take care of it, and at this point, neither do you.

This. So much this. Ask me how I know.

Talk to your lawyer, don't worry about being fair (there are going to be parts of this judgement that are 'fair' to you, and parts that are 'fair' to him, but that's why you have lawyers and mediators and judges). Sometimes you just have to suck up 'fair' (but don't get screwed over either - trust your lawyer, and if you don't, get a new one) to just get this taken care of as fast as possible so you can move on.

Hang in there.
posted by joycehealy at 6:36 AM on February 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


My parents got divorced when I was 19, and it was tough, but something that I have always been incredibly grateful for is that my generously and unstintingly supported my mom after they split - so that as far as I know, they have never had a single fight about money, and my mom still handles some small financial obligations for my dad. Make no mistake - this was a very acrimonious relationship with infidelity on both sides. And yet my dad simply took it as his responsibility to continue supporting my mom until she was completely financially stable, and paid for anything we needed even though my mom had custody of my siblings. If there was any kind of legal agreement in place regarding spousal support, he not only fulfilled it; he went above and beyond.

This was decades ago now, but I think about this a lot when I get overwhelmed and unhappy about the ongoing consequences of the split. This might sound over the top, but it feels to me like proof that my parents are good people, even when they behave in ways that hurt me. In comparison to the way I see other divorced couples fight, they were selfless and respectful and put our well-being ahead of theirs. If I ever get divorced, I hope I can behave as well as they did. The way they acted makes me proud.

I have no doubt that my dad did this not for my mom, but for us - because he knew that it would be better for us to have two financially solvent parents, yes: money he gave to my mother he was also giving to us, because my younger siblings lived with her. But also, I feel like that financial support contributed to a more abstract sense that even though they we split, we were all still a family: that we still had responsibilities to each other, and we fulfilled those obligations not begrudgingly, because the law said we had to, but generously and with love.

I know your divorce has been tough and your ex has behaved badly, but to the extent you can, I would encourage you to think not about what's fair, but about what's generous and kind. Don't let yourself get egregiously taken advantage of (you should both still have lawyers) but do your best to make your kids proud.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 6:43 AM on February 23, 2015 [16 favorites]


Maybe you could push him to buy out the house from you. He can't get a mortgage, but you could push him to ask for loans from within your religious community. Either he'll get the loans and make the purchase, or he'll get told by a lot of people he respects that there's no way he can afford it and he has to sell the house. That may help to bring him around to selling it.
posted by clawsoon at 7:03 AM on February 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


traditionally, this is exactly the situation where spousal support is needed - one spouse took a risk with their career while the other spouse took stability, and together you shared income that met your combined needs.

Spousal support is supposed to be recognition that a partner sacrificed their own career interests for the overall benefit of the couple (things like childcare, homemaking, or working a lousy job to put your partner through school to enable them to launch a high income career), not a way to continue to get a free ride from a hardworking partner after the marriage has failed. As a frame of reference, his take home pay for having taken the risk of running his own business is around what a Walmart employee makes; less if you factor in interest payments on the debt. Unless it's a stage where it's going to start bringing in more money, it probably needs to be shut down and he needs to get a real job.

To the actual question, what's fair is not likely to happen not is it likely what's best for the kids. I'm assuming from the various statements that you're going to have custody of the children. If so, that's way too much house for a single person with a minimum wage job to have, but it may be your leverage to avoid continuing to subsidize him for years. If his business has assets that could be sold to pay down that $60K debt, that too might be leverage as well.

I would suggest a neutral mediator with the stated goal that what you want to see is him on his own two feet in two to three years, with the two of you completely financially decoupled. If he doesn't agree to this, then you can see if you can use losing his business and house as leverage.
posted by Candleman at 7:16 AM on February 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


This is entirely something to be discussed with your lawyer. What's the deal with that?

It sounds like you want to completely disentangle from this dead weight, your ex. Unfortunately, you have children together.

You need to sell the house in a timely fashion. Your lawyer needs to advocate for you strongly on every point of entanglement to either clear the point of connection, or set a legal end date on each point of connection.

You didn't mention custody and that figures into this. What the hell is up with your lawyer??

Anyway. I have every confidence his business will fail this season, because that is your ex's pattern, and you have no reason not to expect more of the same as the last 16 years.

"Fair" doesn't matter. Your position is that he doesn't share parenting responsibilities and he doesn't share financial responsibilities, and (understandably) you seem to want him out of the equation.

Fine. Does your lawyer say this is possible? Talk to your lawyer.
posted by jbenben at 7:25 AM on February 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Use any tool at your disposal, certainly including mediation, to solve for the worst problem first -- which in this case is the desire to keep the house. Keeping the house is a HUGE source of post-divorce financial failure. Married couples often have too much house to begin with, and in any event the house was the expression of shared resources, requirements, and aspirations none of which applies any longer.

Now, you are not in the typical fact pattern, where a low-earning wife wants to keep the house for the kids, and ends up taking her husband's share of the home equity in lieu of her share of other assets or a reduction in support ... and then can't make the mortgage or maintenance costs, being eventually pushed out of the house with nothing to show for it.
posted by MattD at 7:49 AM on February 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Can you retain ownership of the house and then rent it to him? Even if the rent is just equal to the mortgage payments, so you are not making anything on the deal, I worry about letting him take over the mortgage payments. If he stops paying for whatever reason, it would be your credit that takes the hit. If you rent it to him, you have some legal protections available to landlords if he stops paying.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:06 AM on February 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


For our kids' sake and my own, I would like to see his business succeed.

You need to be prepared for the possibility that this might not happen. I know a couple of men who put in major self-improvement efforts in the months leading up to the end of their marriage in an effort to win back the respect and love of their wives, and then gave up when their wives went through with the divorce. If your husband's business had some success last year for that reason, don't be surprised if he slumps into a depression when you're finally gone, and the business fails.

Maybe the opposite will happen - maybe he'll figure out how to define his self-respect on his own terms instead of depending on you for it, and he'll make the effort to make the business succeed for his own sake and the sake of the kids - but be prepared for that to not happen.
posted by clawsoon at 8:16 AM on February 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I don't think you've mentioned your kids going forward. Presumably your ex-spouse will have custody of your kids at least some of the time. So one of the things you want to consider here is how you want your kids to live during that time. If you force your spouse to sell the house and move out to a bachelor pad, that's where your kids will be living, too. If you let him stay in the house, your kids will have more stability since at least some of the time they will be in the home they have lived in for a long time. If you let your husband's income drop to 20K, then unless you'll be paying child support, your kids' lifestyle will drop accordingly. Though this part at least can be mitigated with child support, as I suggested.

This isn't about fairness, necessarily, but it's something else you should be considering.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:21 AM on February 23, 2015


You say you have a good attorney, but the tone of your question implies otherwise. Or perhaps you're not fully utilitizing the attorney you have. Another name for attorney is counselor. This is for a reason.

From your previous questions, it seems like you are lacking a support system for this separation. Your attorney may be "good" in terms of their experience and ability, but may not be what you need for your situation. You should be able to tell your attorney that you're not quite sure what you are legally entitled to, and that you're feeling pressured to possibly give up more than you need to by many outside forces. I think the compass for what is "fair" in your mind may be heavily influenced by these outside forces; that being able to separate from your spouse at all a priori tips the scales in your favor and you must atone for that "benefit" by giving up financial resources that are rightfully yours.

You need to circle back with your attorney and possibly seek different representation. From my perspective (as a non-divorce non-your attorney), what is "fair" in this situation is for you to get every last scrap of wealth you can out of the divorce and for your soon-to-be-ex-husband to be adequately represented in the proceedings (even if you need to fund his attorney out of marital assets).

It's not your responsibility to make sure he gets a fair deal. That's his attorney's job, and you're likely financing that attorney out of wealth you primarily created. Don't pay for it twice by asking for less than you can get.
posted by melissasaurus at 8:29 AM on February 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Thanks for all the advice so far. To answer a couple of questions:

- custody is currently split about 60% me, 40% him...this will probably change to about 70% me in the formal separation agreement.

- I do have a 50% stake in his business, but my lawyer's advice is to give up that stake so as not to be responsible for any debts the business incurs.

- I DO want my ex to be in a good financial position, most especially for my kids' sake. Despite the failing of our marriage, he was good to me in all the ways he knew how. He's not a bad person, but he did take me for granted and could have done a lot more to contribute financially to the marriage. So I want to be kind, but I don't want to get taken advantage of for years after the divorce either.
posted by puppet du sock at 8:39 AM on February 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


You could agree to sell the house at the end of this upcoming season - it'd give him stability for the next X months, and would enable you to be free from the house sooner than you'd be if you wait for him to make enough to buy you out.
posted by ldthomps at 8:44 AM on February 23, 2015


Are you in a state with statutory spousal support? For example, in NY a basic calculator suggests 20,000 per year in spousal support; CA suggests 16,000. This doesn't take into account child support, which I imagine might come off the top of that, but your attorney can advise. Alimony generally does not drag on forever these days, either; in some states it is curtailed to 3 years, and in some states it is capped a specific payment amount as well.

Do you want to say what state you're in?
posted by DarlingBri at 8:45 AM on February 23, 2015


Sorry forgot to mention I am in Ontario, Canada. Child support is mandatory here but spousal support is not always so; I am ok with paying some amount of spousal support for a time but my main issue is what to do with the house/living situation, long term.
posted by puppet du sock at 8:48 AM on February 23, 2015


If you're in Toronto, I can recommend Hilary Linton as a mediator.

If this ever comes before a judge, they may be surprised that you're not in the house given the likely 70/30 custody split. If you have children, the person who has custody of the children will most often be the one who stays in the family home with the children. A primary obligation of the courts when considering possession and disposition of the matrimonial home is the best interests of the children affected.
(4) In determining the best interests of a child, the court shall consider,
(a) the possible disruptive effects on the child of a move to other accommodation; and
(b) the child’s views and preferences, if they can reasonably be ascertained.
So in court, if it comes to that, it would probably be much easier for you to get exclusive use of the home than it would be to force your husband to sell, which is the opposite of what you want. The longer your husband stays in the house and has partial custody of the kids there, the more likely that the courts in Ontario will view selling the house as being disruptive to the children and block you from doing it if he doesn't want to.

So if you really don't want to live in the house yourself, you need to convince your husband to sell it or buy it from you ASAP. I suspect that your best bet is to push him to buy it from you; the process of begging for loans will likely bring home to him most quickly that he doesn't have the money for a house and can't get it, and that selling is his only reasonable option.

He may agreed to your "let's sell it later" plan now, and then change his mind when the time actually comes. And he may be able to get a judge to agreed with him later, too, if he argues that he realized that keeping the house would be in the best interests of the children.
posted by clawsoon at 9:38 AM on February 23, 2015 [9 favorites]


Clawsoon speaks truth. Get out of this house entanglement ASAP.
posted by jbenben at 10:09 AM on February 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Ontario is all about status quo. The family court system is slow and by the time anyone formal agreements are put into place judges are reluctant to make any more changes than what has happened since the separation. So don't plan for things to change with a formal agreement, change them right now to what is best for you and the children. (Your ex is an adult and knows his best interests better than you, so leave looking out for himself up to him). Get the kids into the 70% custody arrangement (although anything above 60% doesn't really make a big difference financially it just is strongly preferred to keep things the same). Sell the house, or do clawsoon's plan to buy it from him and then sell, because your ex cannot afford to live there on $20,000 a year and he will bring his financial instability into all other aspects of your relationship and negotiation. Is he currently paying the $300/month child support he is supposed to, can he really afford that if he is only bringing home a little over a thousand a month?

You lawyer seems to be leaving you a bit in limbo if they are not strongly suggesting you cut financial ties ASAP with with a spouse that has proven to be financially irresponsible in the past. I agree you want to cut the ties to his business to avoid his debts, but your ex doesn't need to know that and will probably want to retain sole ownership (because in his mind it *will* be a profitable business); you can use that leverage to your advantage.
posted by saucysault at 12:14 PM on February 23, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, if you agree he is eligible for spousal support you may never get out from it (one established, entitlement to spousal support is hard to break in Ontario) and the initial claim - which if he has a good lawyer they will go for a mid-range of about $1,000 month for at least seven years - means you may still be required to pay spousal support past when he is paying you child support. Accept a lowered child support if necessary to avoid the spousal support obligation.
posted by saucysault at 12:22 PM on February 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Do not give a man a dime more of spousal support than you are legally obligated to. If I were you, I would look into negotiating lower spousal support in exchange for your making generous concessions about the house. Get a ballbuster attorney and don't give an inch.
posted by corb at 12:28 PM on February 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


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