How to protect yourself financially in a separation
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It’s likely not going to be the first thing on your mind post-separation, but sorting out your financial situation quickly is essential after a breakup. If your separation didn’t happen under the best terms, acting quickly will give you the best chance of protecting yourself financially in a separation, and will allow you to get through your split as smoothly as possible without having to worry about money.
Protecting the rights to your home
The first thing you’ll need to get sorted in a separation situation is the rights to your home, as it’s likely that you and your partner aren’t going to carry on living together. If the house is in your name, then you can do as you wish with it, but if the home is in your partner’s name then you’ll be able to register your interest in it so that the home cannot be re-mortgaged or sold without your knowledge.
In the event that both you and your partner’s names are registered as owners (this is called being joint tenants) then it may be the case that the sale of the house (if it’s sold) is shared between the both of you, unless you and your partner come to an agreement about changing who the owner of the house is.
Speaking to your mortgage provider or landlord
Another thing you’re likely to want to get done sooner rather than later is speaking to your mortgage provider (if you’re a homeowner) or your landlord (if you rent).
If you’re renting and moving somewhere else, you don’t need to worry too much as you can simply stop paying your rent once you’ve moved out. If you’ve got a mortgage, however, then you’ll need to continue making payments towards it even if you no longer live with your partner. Not doing so can seriously damage your credit score, making it unlikely you’ll be accepted for credit in the future.
Find out how to improve your credit score.
In the case of you having a joint mortgage with your partner, you’ll both be liable for the full amount rather than half each, so you should try and come to an agreement with your partner that you’ll both continue to pay half of the mortgage if you can.
Contacting your credit card and loan providers
Most couples also have shared bank accounts. If this is the case, you’ll need to call your bank and explain that you’ve split up with your partner. If you can come to an agreement with your partner about splitting the money in the joint account between you and putting your respective amounts in your personal bank accounts (if you have them), then do that.
If you have a joint bank account but can’t agree to split the money, then the very least you should do is call your bank and tell them that for any money to be withdrawn from the account; the permission of both you and your partner will be required. This means you don’t have to worry about your partner spending money from the joint account without your knowledge.
You should also stop any payments going into your joint account if you can, and have your wages go into your personal bank account from this point onwards.
If you’ve got any accounts where your partner also has a second credit card for the account, then (depending if your separation was an amicable one or not) you can either allow them to keep the card and trust them not to use it, or ask them to give it back to you. If they refuse, then you should call the bank involved and ask them to either remove your partner from the account or have the second credit card blocked so that money can’t be taken out of it.
Can you divorce without a financial settlement?
If you decide to end a marriage or civil partnership by getting a divorce, you will need to know if a financial settlement is required. This will determine how finances are separated once you are divorced. You can get a financial settlement at any point during the divorce proceedings, including after it has been legally finalised.
You may want to get a financial settlement agreed by the court so your affairs are in order, leaving you and your partner free to move on with your lives. In a financial settlement, you will decide how property, shares, savings, debts and childcare costs are divided up.
Other financial assets
If you’ve got other financial belongings or assets that you’re worried about being sold or transferred, then you may be able to get court action to prevent this from happening.
If you’re worried about doing this or unsure about what to do next, then you should seek professional help from a solicitor; they’ll be able to advise you on what your rights are, and what you can or can’t do with regards to these assets.
Have you recently separated from your partner and found yourself worrying about debt?
If you have, then please don’t hesitate to call our friendly, supportive helpline team for a confidential chat on 0800 280 2816; we’ll be able to talk you through any debt solutions we think can work for you, and how you can pay off your debts in a fair, affordable manner.