Posted by familylaw on 14th July 2020

Mary found herself in an unmarried relationship with a controlling partner. Director and Lawyer, David Cobern supported her through a long process of trying to secure the family home, enabling her and her children to have security and the freedom to move on.

“I knew early on in the relationship that my partner had issues with drink and prescription drugs. We had children quite soon after getting together. My job sometimes required me to work nights and I would come home to find him passed out, in no fit state to look after the children.

His controlling personality manifested itself in all sorts of ways including food and bills. I had to give him my wages but he would also ask for more. It transpired that we were actually in debt, he’d used the money for his addiction, not the bills. We had bought the house jointly but he had made a larger contribution and held this over me all the time.

He constantly told me that nothing I could do would be enough for the children, he made me feel completely useless. I felt powerless.
On one occasion when he was passed out, I was getting rid of some half-drunk bottles, but he came round and saw me, and became violent. This sparked me into action – I didn’t want the children to be scared. So I hid with them, and called my family and the police. The police arrived and told him to leave and he moved in with a friend.

I did try to keep it amicable, because he said he’d get help but in the end he just got worse. He stopped paying the mortgage saying that the house was his because he’d put a larger deposit down. This is when I got in touch with David. He told me I was being fed a lot of lies, he helped me to understand that there was a way through and I could get out the other side.

It took a long time, many years to sort out the house. We tried mediation but he didn’t turn up. He’d demand to see the children or else he wouldn’t give me any money. If we did ask him for money, he would simply vanish. For a long time, I had to take on extra work to pay the mortgage and bills.

I wanted him to be able to see the children, we arranged through the court when and where, but again he didn’t turn up. When he did, he was inebriated, some of the things he did showed his mental instability. So, he’s not seen his children for years.

The situation was drawn out because we needed to prove he was ill, we needed his signature on the paperwork, we needed him in courts – often it was impossible to find him. It was all mind games. Just before lockdown in a last frantic rush with solicitors and mortgage companies all on the phone together I managed to finalise a new mortgage. So funnily enough, lockdown became my freedom.

Through all of this David was a superstar. He had to cope with me in tears, in total confusion, unable to understand what was going on. He went way above and beyond.”

Mary’s tips

• Be strong enough to realise that things aren’t right, especially when someone uses control and violence

• Realise that sometimes you just can’t fix someone

• Talk to someone sooner, it’s not a failure to do so

What now?

• For 10 years I thought I was stuck. Now I know that nobody can control me or stop me doing the things that are right for me and my children

• The house is mine and is a family home – the children are settled

• I have changed my job and the new role means I have authority over other people and can help them

• Physically and emotionally my ex partner wouldn’t recognise me, I am back in control

• I’m on the right path now ready to begin a new adventure. Next up, a holiday for me and my children!

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