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Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Old Jun 2nd 2019, 11:13 pm
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Default Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Hello

Newbie here, first post. It's a bit miserable I'm afraid.

I was with my husband for 11 years, married for almost 4 years. I'm a Brit, he's American and I just got my US citizenship. I've just been blindsided, he wants a divorce. I know, great timing. And there's no changing his mind.

I can't get a definitive answer from two attorneys I've seen so far: Is he entitled to make a claim on my pre-marital UK assets (my lifetime savings and private pension)?

I gave up my job, house, car, family, friends and country to marry him. It doesn't seem fair that he can go after 50% of my assets in the UK when he made absolutely no contribution to them. He is threatening to do this if I don't agree to his terms. It makes a big difference to how I'll approach the divorce. I will move back to England and need to protect what I have to start my life over.

Can anyone help? We live in Kansas which is an an equitable distribution state, but I don't know if that extends to monies held in the UK that are pre-marital.

Many thanks for reading, appreciate any advice.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 12:33 am
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Get a good lawyer. Don't bother with internet advice. Call the lawyer an investment.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 10:38 am
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Are these assets in an account in both of your names, or have they ever been so? Based on your post I would assume not, and if this is the case you should be fine. A few minutes research on Kansas divorce law suggests that only property obtained since the beginning of the marriage is subject to action in a divorce, unless alimony is likely to be involved.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 11:50 am
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Thanks for responding.

The first attorney I saw seemed to think my UK assets were safe, the second was adamant they weren't.

My UK life savings have always been held in my name, as is my private pension. I do want to request alimony, I have to start my life over in the UK, and the money I have will not get me very far. The cost of living is considerably higher in the south of England than it is in Wichita.

My spouse doesn't want to pay alimony, he wants to walk away from the marriage in a far better financial position than before. I paid his debt, paid the down payment on our house... we're talking $71k on just those two things.

I am trying to get a fair and reasonable settlement. My fear is that he'll get more of my money and I'll be even worse off.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 11:52 am
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Then I agree with Tom. Get a good lawyer and don't spare the expense.

One thing to note - if you move back to the UK it will be very difficult (and probably, expensive) to enforce any potential alimony order from abroad if he fails to pay it (and ultimately, what's his incentive to do so?)

paid the down payment on his house...
How is it 'his' house? Was this prior to marriage? If not, it's subject to the divorce, if you did in fact pay it before you got married you might be out of luck looking at the rules I mentioned earlier.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 12:03 pm
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

That was a typo that I've corrected - it's our house, not his. I'm on the deeds.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 12:17 pm
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

In that case you can either be 'bought out' via a re-mortgage or a sale/lien can be forced.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 12:20 pm
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

We haven't yet agreed what to do with the house. I don't want it, but if we sell, there won't be enough to cover my down payment + selling costs. There may not be enough to cover the down payment.

I'm trying to find a good lawyer but am wondering if I should just walk away if there's a risk that I could lose even more.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 1:44 pm
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

When I divorced NYS wasn't a community property state at that time (and not sure if it is today).

As a homeowner, you usually don't recover the initial down payment and closing costs after only a few years unless the house has appreciated a great deal because the market is up and/or you have done home improvements. Your husband had no money at the time you purchased the home and it was only your money that made it possible for you to purchase a house and property? Not that it matters. The house should be shared 50/50 regardless of who put in the most funds. If the house was bought for $150,000 and now worth $200,000 and sold for that amount then you would get 1/2 of the profit and he the other 1/2 after closing fees are deducted.

As for your investments and pension in the UK, I don't know UK law but here in the US, you, as the spouse and 11 years of marriage, are entitled to part of his pension plan and part of his social security benefits as you have been married over 7 years. The pension plan monies are negotiable and you can sign off on them or he on yours but your claim to part of his social security is not negotiable.

Does this mean that he has the same claim to your UK retirement benefits? Depends on the laws in the UK. Depends on whether they area private or government benefits. Is he entitled to part of your savings in your UK accounts? He is most definitely if you added monies to any accounts during your 11 years of marriage. Usually what was yours or his before marriage remains solely yours or his. For instance if you had $50K in the account before marriage and now 11 years later you have added another 25K, he is entitled to claim part of the $25K as well as part of the interest that 25K earned. The same goes for you on his accounts.

Good luck. Divorce is never easy and often unpleasant, particularly if one of the partners doesn't want it.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 3:34 pm
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Originally Posted by Rete View Post
…. as the spouse and 11 years of marriage, ....
She's been married for less than four years.
Originally Posted by G00dByeGirl View Post
… I was with my husband for 11 years, married for almost 4 years. ....
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 8:14 pm
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Go to another lawyer, you've seen 2 already and been given 2 different answers. Go to a third and get one that will be your pitbull if necessary. Even just pay for a consultation with the best lawyer in your city.. not only will you hopefully get definitive advice it also means your husband can't then use them.Your husband sounds like a nasty little bully and you need someone to watch out for you. Best advice I got? When they start yelling threats just smile and say "sure honey" then leave your lawyer to do their job.
Big hug.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 9:43 pm
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Thanks for all the advice (and hug!), I really appreciate it.

My ex seems to think that we can do this without attorneys, but what he thinks is reasonable, is not always good for me. Of course he is looking out for himself.

It's been such hard work trying to find a good lawyer who knows international family law. I have a meeting with a senior exec. attorney at a law firm tomorrow, and I've tired myself out today trying to make sure he can answer my questions at the consult before I hire him.

I've also got a call tomorrow with Expatriate Law (with a para legal). They claim to be experts in expat divorce so I'm really hoping I'm in better position tomorrow than I am today when it comes to knowledge.

My situation is toxic and I want to get back to the UK asap. So another question is whether I can start divorce proceedings in KS and finish up from home.

I don't know how anyone survives this nightmare.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 9:50 pm
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Originally Posted by G00dByeGirl View Post
.... So another question is whether I can start divorce proceedings in KS and finish up from home. ….
Yes, that's what my sister did (well, she was in Pennsylvania, not KS).

And it is certainly possible to do it yourself, but that assumes that both parties are reasonable and not trying to enrich themselves at the expense of their soon to be ex-spouse. Bear in mind that you can probably expect the lawyers to take 5%-10% of your joint net worth, so being petty is going to cost you both a pretty penny.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jun 3rd 2019 at 9:54 pm.
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Old Jun 3rd 2019, 10:26 pm
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Do you really need an international lawyer? If all your assets were pre-marital ones then the question is will they be included when evaluating assets of both parties. If yes, then do all you can to arrive at a settlement and mediate. When someone says you don't need a lawyer, huge warning bells should be going off so well done you. Just having one on your side may well deter your husband.
If you haven't already done so, then you should ask the lawyer how to protect your finances in the USA over the next few days/weeks/months.
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Old Jun 4th 2019, 12:13 pm
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Default Re: Divorce and UK pre-marriage assets... Help!

Have you been declaring the UK savings and private pension plan on an FBAR and Form 8938 each year? If not the SDOP is the cheapest way to solve any omissions. Given that your US tax returns are joint; you'd want your husband to agree to pay some or all of the SDOP penalty if needed within your divorce agreement.
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