It was five years ago that Emma Cooper and her husband separated. Since then, her divorce has dominated her life. The 47-year-old has spent much time and energy fighting her ex in court – over custody of their three children and financial support – with legal bills topping £85,000.
Her former partner, a banker, dropped his maintenance payments to a bare minimum after being made redundant, despite having a six-figure payout and the strong likelihood of another job in the pipeline. Cooper is now hoping her case may see a change in the law, where redundancy payments can be taken into account as income in child support cases.
“When he left, his attitude was ‘and I’m taking my money with me’. He uses money to punish me. He pays late, he doesn’t pay the right amount, or doesn’t pay at all. He stays in control, and in my life, in a continuation of a very toxic relationship.”
Luckier than many women in the same position, Cooper lost the family home but has a house for herself and her children. “Not that it is an asset I can sell, as we need to live in it,” she said. “My pension is worth £18,000; his is £228,000.