D-I-V-O-R-C-E. How Clean is a Clean Break. Jacky’s Story

Many of us will remember the winter of 2017/18 because of the weather. Jacky (not her real name) will remember it for different reasons. It was the time when after 22 years of marriage, her husband told her he wanted a divorce. Although Citizens Advice Waverley (CAW) could not prevent the Beast from the East we help people with problems like Jacky’s on a regular basis.

Her husband had it all worked out. Their children were in their twenties and living independently. So in his mind there was nothing to prevent a clean break. They could sell their jointly owned house, pay off their joint mortgage and split what remained 50/50. Jacky thought this would leave her at 55 with around £80,000 and little or no income. She had only ever had low paid, part-time jobs and was currently unable to work because of a deteriorating eye condition.

Her husband’s annual salary is around £60,000 and he is considering taking early retirement because he expects to get a good pension deal from his employer. According to Jacky, a few years ago, he had been violent towards her and the police had been involved.  He had been verbally abusive whenever she had tried to talk about the terms of the divorce and she still felt afraid of him when he’d been drinking.

Jacky felt pressurised to accept her husband’s proposal and she found the situation upsetting and extremely stressful.

  • Would she have to move a long way away to be able to buy somewhere to live she could afford?
  • What was she to live on?
  • What if her husband sold the house from under her?

 A court would make an order detailing how their property and assets should be divided between them taking account of each of their situations (she would need a solicitor’s advice on what this might be). This would consider things like the length of the marriage, the capital and the earning capacity of each – including any pension.

Jacky was also advised that the house could not be sold without her consent because her name was on the deeds and even if it wasn’t she still had rights (as did her husband):

–  to remain in the property,

–  to be able to come and go, and

–  to prevent a sale.

She had Internet access and knew how to browse privately so that her husband would not be able to see which sites she had visited on any shared computer.

Explains how family mediation works. Jacky and her husband would be expected to try mediation as a means of reaching agreement before starting court proceedings.

Has lots of helpful information for women in Jacky’s situation – including where domestic violence is involved. If she felt at risk of harm she should call the police (999 if urgent, 101 if non-urgent).

The National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) provides a free, emergency injunction service to help anyone who has recently suffered or been threatened with domestic violence to apply for an emergency court injunction. Their helpline number is 0800 970 2070.

Jacky was also given an appointment with a solicitor who would explain how she might be charged for legal advice and whether she could get legal aid. A further Citizens Advice appointment was also made for her to discuss benefits to which she might be entitled.

If your worried about something, why not call Citizens Advice Waverley on 0344 848 7969. You can get free, confidential independent advice by visiting:


Citizens Advice Waverley is a registered charity. You can help local people get the support they need by making a donation to Citizens Advice Waverley at https://casws.org.uk/fundraisingYour donation stays local and will ensure we are here to help local people when they most need it.

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