Posted by: Suzi | 2009-04-19

Please advise

Hi there

I hope you can help me as my question is not really a labour issue.

My husband and I are both professionals - he is an attorney. We have two small children, one of two years and another of 8 months.

When our first baby was born, I resigned my job that involved alot of travelling and started my own business. I have moved my office to our home and work from 8 - 12 while the babies are at daycare.

My husband, his father and his brother are partners in their legal firm and in 2001 they bought a wine farm in partnership.
I warned and begged my husband not to buy the farm, but he went ahead anyway - under pressure of his father and brother.

There are two houses on the farm, one a one bedroom flat and the other a four bedroom house.
My husband' s two brothers live in the respective houses - for free!!!! We just have to pay, pay, pay, pay.
The worst thing is that the brohter who lives in the big house is single!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My problem is that the farm is draining all the income the legal practice generates. My husband has not received a salary for many months.
I am under immense pressure to earn money while I only have half a day to work due to family responsibilities.

Our home is less than 90 square metres and we do not have space to pack our clothes and other belongings - including cutlery and crockery.
I have my hands full to try and maintain order in our little shack due to a lack of space. The place is also run down - most things are broken and the paint is peeling form the walls.

It is impossible for me to raise our two little children in this house! And of course I am embarrassed by the condition of our home (all run down and broken).
I can write pages about the condition of our home, but please just believe me that it is terrible.
Paint peeling, plaster falling off, doors falling off, clothers and crockery stacked everywhere due to a lack of space... ...

All this because of the farm taking up all the money i.e. paying wages, morgage etc etc. The two brothers are happily living on the farm, hardly affected by the financial impact it has on the leagal firm and of course our family.

Someone made an offer to buy the farm, but the other partners rejected the offer. Their excuse is that they want more for the farm, but I suspect that they just do not want to give up their free boarding and lodging. The price they want is ridiculous and not at all market related.

Did I mention the partnership (read we) even pay their electicity, gardener and domestic worker!!???

I set an ultimatum to my husband that they must either sell the farm so that we can improve our own living conditions, or to tell his single brother to move out of the big house so that we can live there.
If not, I said that I will take the children and move out. I intend to follow through with my threat.

I just want a small, tidy place. Nothing big or extravagant. Even a bachelor flat where things are not in shatters will do.

My husband chooses not to provide an acceptable home for us, and I want to force him to.

He is too " scared"  to stand up to his brothers, but his family (myself and the kids) must pay the price.
We both are educated people, work as hard as possible adn yet live like squatters to maintain a very big and beautiful wine farm!

I feel that if my husband has money to waste on the farm, he must be prepared to at least help provide for his family.

I want to know if I can force my husband to pay our rent for the new place?

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Our expert says:
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Obviously your husband is fully knowledgeable as to how the partnership ought to work. It is suggested that both you and he consult with a commercial lawyer.

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