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Saturday, 10 August 2013

My Day in Court

Well as I have mentioned in previous posts, a great concern of mine recently was my upcoming court date regarding the repossession of our home.

When it became abundantly clear that the father of my three children, really did not have any intention on preventing his children becoming homeless, I realised I needed to do what I could...and QUICKLY!

My aunt in Hungary even attempted to contact the grandparents. They said nothing even resembling concern for their grandchildren possible eviction of their family home, and in fact said they have had no contact with their own son for two years now so it is out of their hands.

I worried more than I thought possible. I discovered a fear I have not felt before. I had people saying that perhaps this could work to my advantage and losing the house may be a blessing in disguise. I would after all loose the last material connection to my ex husband. I could move and leave the memories and the burdens behind....move once we got accommodation in a council house and living in emergency shelters in the meantime! No, I do not have the strength or the desire to do that now and the stress of it all would have been overwhelming given all our other stresses!

So, I began making even more copious amounts of phone calls, visiting advice centres, sending documents etc. I also took out money from the bank every time I received any money, stashing it away, so it would not be spent. This of course meant no gas in the car, another visit to the food bank, not spending at all except for the bills being paid. I took almost half of my child maintenance money out knowing we would continue to eat plain pasta or rice for another few weeks. It would be worth it if I could manage to keep our home!

I also hounded the Department of Work and Pensions to stress that my application for financial assistance simply must be finalised BEFORE my court date. Despite all the complaints people make toward dealing with government agencies, I always spoke to nice people and on Friday, the last working day before my Monday morning court date, I had a wonderfully helpful woman who actually phoned me regarding my application. It seems the decision on my application could not be made without completing a supplementary form! However, this helpful woman, understanding the urgency of my predicament, got the form up on her computer, asked me the questions and typed them in. She said they would call me back in an hour with their decision. They actually did call me back in an hour with a positive outcome! Obviously, I would not have the confirmation letter to produce in court, but I would have relevant information such as the amount which will be paid, when the payments will start being made to the lender, and the date the claim will cover from. I was tremendously relieved!

I then rushed to the bank and made a payment of half the mortgage arrears. I received my receipt and rushed home to make more phone calls.

I called the mortgage company and told them about the outcome of the application for financial assistance as well as my payment toward half the arrears. Then I called the mortgage company's solicitor and explained to them the latest developments as well. They said there might no longer be a need to go to court, the will confer with the bank and phone me back.....My heart stopped. I hoped and prayed! I crossed everything I could possibly cross! I so desperately did not want to go to court! Could this even be possible? Will I be spared going to court??? Unfortunately not! Court would need to go ahead, but I was somehow not so worried about the outcome. Ironically, I was more terrified of having to be in the same space as my ex husband while he would glare at me and make me feel stupid and useless.

I asked a friend to attend court with me to give me moral support, as well as knowing that if I was not alone my ex husband would not approach me, yet if I was on my own he would and do his best to intimidate me and make me feel like crying!

Much to my relief, but also to his own damage, he did not appear in court!

I asked to speak to the solicitor representing the bank and we had a positive discussion of what I have managed to put into place. He said I showed good faith and that along with the financial assistance I would now be receiving the remaining arrears would be paid off in a few short months.

Thankfully the judge was extremely fair and sympathetic. He actually questioned if we had to proceed but the bank was firm that it was more to do with the length of time I was "ignoring" the problems concerning the mortgage.

The judge respected my devotion to my children and how I lost track of all other matters. He wished me luck with the problems with my son, he reminded me not to neglect the mortgage again, and then he suspended the possession order!

Both  the solicitor and the judge were unimpressed by my ex husband, a teacher in a senior position in a Catholic girls school,  being irresponsible in respect to his parental responsibility to maintain the safety of his children. However, at the end of the day, that was not the concern of the court on that day, it was the mortgage. Since we are both named on the mortgage, we are jointly liable, and if one party refuses to cooperate, the bank can do nothing except pursue the other party.

To be honest, I was happy, even though it was not a HUGE success story, my day in court did mean that I managed to keep us in our home without the help of the grandparents or my ex husband!  I was seen as the responsible party in the eyes of the law!  I was the one showing good faith.  I was the one protecting my children. And above all, I did not have to see my ex husband....HAPPY DAY!