A wife, babymother and money problems

All Woman

Dear Mrs Macaulay,
I want to divorce my wife who I have been separated from for over five years. We have no children together. I am financially tied to her, however, as we had bid for a NHT house during our marriage. I decided to end the marriage after she acted carelessly and stupidly when we attempted to buy the house. I had borrowed some money for the downpayment and my wife was to do the rest, but two weeks before closing she advised me that she hadn't tried to get the additional monies. At that point I got mad and decided to call it quits.

Long story short, I met a young lady and we became friends. A few months in I found out that she was pregnant for me. She was also in the process of securing a home, but was short on funds. We decided to get a home together since she was having my son, and she also had another child. This caused a strain on my finances as not only was I paying for the loan that I'd taken out for the downpayment on the house with my wife, but I was now paying a second loan for the home I currently live in.

My problem though is that my girlfriend is now pregnant again, but even after five years I am still financially strapped. She told me that she is not having a second child without me starting my divorce proceedings. She even threatened to have an abortion. I am really happy that she is pregnant and I really want my family, but I don't know what to do as I don't have enough cash to start divorce proceedings. Where can I go? I need to protect my children and I need my girlfriend to be comfortable so she won't be left out.

I am having a bit of a difficulty understanding what you have stated about the break up of your marriage. Your judgemental conclusion seems to rest on the fact that you had borrowed money for the downpayment on the house (which is generally 15 per cent of the purchase price) and your wife was to provide any shortfall, assuming that you both had been granted a loan from the NHT.

You decided that your marriage had irretrievably broken down, but did not say how the additional monies were obtained to complete the purchase, which I conclude was done, because you say that you are still financially tied to your wife. It seems to me that you did not decide to rescind your offer to purchase the premises and get a refund, but to go ahead, and you must therefore have borrowed more money in order to complete the purchase. So I conclude that the purchase was concluded with the property registered in the joint names of yourself and your estranged wife, with a mortgage endorsed thereon for a loan granted by the NHT and maybe a second mortgage for the further loan you and your wife must have borrowed to complete. You have not been clear about this and you make no mention about how the transaction was completed, but it clearly was.

You have not stated whether you or your wife occupy this property, or whether you have leased it to obtain income from it to assist you both to make the mortgage payments. And then you entered into a second agreement for a mortgage on another property.

You must now therefore think of practical means to improve you financial position and lessen your financial burdens. Firstly, your wife must contribute and pay her share for the mortgage of the premises you both own and you should have a financial discussion with her to decide whether you both can agree to rent out the property so that the rental can be used to make the mortgage instalments and then you share any balance between you. Or you can decide to sell that property and share the net proceeds.

You have not stated whether and what your babymother contributed to the purchase of your joint home and to its mortgage payments.

Your concern to sort out your life and ensure that you, your babymother and your children become a legal and happy family is admirable. So how can you go about getting your irretrievably broken down marriage dissolved when you have very little funds?

First, you can try to find a lawyer who will agree to act for you to obtain the dissolution of your marriage based on a written agreement to pay his or her fees in instalments periodically, and in such sums as you both agree. You might even find a firm of lawyers or a single practitioner who may agree to do you petition pro bono. You must make the rounds and be prepared for refusals, but pray for success.

Or you can go to either the Norman Manley Legal Aid Clinic attached to the Norman Manley Law School at the University of the West Indies Mona campus, or to the Legal Aid Clinic, Tower Street, Kingston and seek to enter into a similar instalment written agreement with them. These fees are lower than those of private practitioners and would be more affordable.

There are also various churches which have legal aid clinics giving free advice and/or offer services at fees which are lower than normal or with just the payment of expenses, in order to assist those in financial difficulties.

There was an Official Clerk of the Supreme Court who used to assist those in need of assistance to proceed and obtain their divorces. You could call the Supreme Court and ask to speak with this officer, explain your situation, and ask for assistance to proceed with your divorce so that you can marry your babymother and secure your family life as soon as possible.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to allwoman@jamaicaobserver.com; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.


The contents of this article are for informational purposes only, and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.




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