“When we first went into lockdown last year, my husband told me it was all over between us, and he left me to live with another woman. He said he’d been seeing her for some time and that he couldn’t face the thought of not seeing her for months – so he would rather live with her, than continue to exist with me!
“I couldn’t believe it at first; I was in a state of shock for weeks. But over the last year and several months, I have come to terms with it. Although it’s not what I would have wanted, we have recently verbally agreed to get a divorce. I suppose I realised this would mean we would divide things up financially, but none the less, it came as a great shock when I got a letter from his solicitor.
“The letter advises me that he wants to sell our house in order to buy a new house with his woman. I didn’t have a solicitor so contacted one suggested by a friend, who wrote back. The thing is though, I felt the letter he wrote seemed more on my husband’s side than mine. It seems so unfair!
“Surely, I should be allowed to stay in my own home until our children have grown up and left? Why doesn’t my solicitor stand up for my rights?”
“I don’t know whether your solicitor is standing up for your rights or not, but if you’re not happy with what he is doing, look for another solicitor. Please don’t be overawed by his ‘professional status’. You are employing this person and as such, they should be acting on your instructions, not the other way around.
“Having said that, there are certain legal protocols in place that he will be adhering to – remember he will be writing to your husband’s solicitor, not to your husband. The words he has used will be those of one professional to another; they are not the words you would use to your husband, for example.
“If you haven’t already done so, I would suggest you contact Citizen’s Advice (citizensadvice.org.uk) and ask for an appointment. Show them the letter and see what they say. If they agree that this solicitor is not acting in your best interests, then it’s probably best to ditch him and get another one.
“Don’t be over-awed by his professional status; if you got poor service at your local supermarket you’d complain, so why put up with unsatisfactory work from your solicitor? Ask around amongst your friends and family to see if anyone can recommend a good family law solicitor; especially if you know someone who has recently divorced. They don’t have to be local, as long as you have access to a computer.
“You ask whether you should be allowed to stay in your family home until your children have grown up, but I’m afraid I can’t answer this. What might be morally right may depend on all manner of things, including whose name the house is in, for a start. This is something that should be discussed with the solicitor or with Citizen’s Advice. Take any information you have relating to the purchase of the property along to your appointment, as this will help the solicitor to help you.
“You will have to consider the arrangements you make with your husband too – keeping the house might mean less in the way of financial support, for example. I imagine it would be something around which negotiations can take place. Your husband could have quite an aggressive solicitor and this might simply be the first ‘shot’ in those negotiations.”
If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.