Q: My husband is a selfish verbal bully who always puts himself before me and our four children. I would like to divorce him but I don't have a job and I cannot see him giving up our beautiful house in order that he can put a roof over our heads somewhere else. My friend says he cannot make us homeless but I am not so sure. Where do I stand?
A: Rest assured you and your children will not be made homeless. Being married gives you certain rights to remain in the former matrimonial home until financial matters between you and your husband have been settled. This is not necessarily the case with unmarried co-habiting couples however.
During divorce proceedings account will be taken of both yours and your husband's circumstances and you will both be asked to make a full and frank voluntary disclosure of your financial affairs. If your husband is unwilling to provide voluntary financial disclosure you can obtain an Order from the Court to force this. You can apply for Legal Aid funding, based on your financial circumstances, but from April 2013 the eligibility conditions for such funding are changing. This means many people will lose out on funding after that date, so it may be preferable to start any intended proceedings prior to then.
Once voluntary financial disclosure has taken place your lawyer will advise on the best outcome for you, taking into account certain criteria under Section 25 of the Matrimonial Causes Act. This includes length of marriage, standard of living, ages of you, your husband and your children, income, earning capacity and potential earnings of both you and your husband, together with the contributions made by both of you (including such as looking after the home whilst your husband worked) and who it is proposed the children of the family will live with.