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A quick financial guide to divorce

Tags: divorce, separation, finances, money, divorced parents
Content Types: What to expect Legal
Categories: Separating

If you’re going through a divorce, money might be the last thing on your mind, but having your finances in order can help make sure you get a fair deal in the separation.

 

Assets

Amongst the stack of emotions surrounding the end of your marriage and the possible effect on your children, it’s really important to get a handle on your assets well in advance of court proceedings. This means all of the things that you own and the money stored in your accounts.

During divorce proceedings, the courts will assess yours and your partner’s joint assets, but also any individual bank accounts and credit cards you hold. It’s worth doing a round-up of all your current accounts, savings accounts, and any investments you have, to give yourself an idea of what is likely to be taken into consideration.

If you own your home, whether jointly or separately, you can get it valued for free. This will allow you to compare the value with the remaining balance on your mortgage to see if you have any equity – in other words, whether you would make or lose money if the house were sold.

As well as accounts and property, the value of any expensive items you own, such as cars, jewellery, or musical instruments may be considered by the courts too. Assets that you brought into the marriage are not usually considered, so anything you owned before getting married shouldn’t come into play. This might include a house you sold in order to buy a joint home with your partner.

Gathering this information in advance can give you an idea of your combined assets and help prepare you for court.

 

Debts

Your debts will also be taken into account. If you and your partner have shared debts in both names, including overdrafts on joint accounts or outstanding balances on credit cards, then you both have a legal responsibility to pay them off. If you’re having trouble with debts, let your creditors know that you are going through a divorce as they may be willing to freeze the interest temporarily. You won’t be able to close down any shared or individual accounts until they have been brought into credit.

You may also have shared debts that are held in your own name, such as a personal credit card that you used to pay for a family holiday. Legally, these are your sole responsibility, even if your ex-partner had a part in accruing the debt.  If your ex is unwilling to contribute, you may need to prove that the spending was for both of you. Look into transferring the balance to an interest-free card, to keep the overall costs down in the long run.

Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of money.co.uk, says:

“As a general rule, debts taken out in joint names will continue to be the responsibility of both parties and so both will need to ensure that repayments are met in full and on time. The exception is credit cards where additional cardholders do not share responsibility for the balance and repayments – this sits with the primary cardholder. Those taken out in sole names before a couple combine their finances will continue to be the responsibility of the person that took them out (unless they get their partner added).

“The above will generally hold when it comes to divorce; however in some instances the courts will take both pre-marital debts and those taken on during the marriage into consideration when they’re dividing assets and allocating maintenance payments etc.”

When considering how to share out a separating couple’s assets, the first thing the courts will take into account is your children. If you own your own home, it’s very likely that your property will be granted to whichever of you has the children living with them most of the time. Even if the home is in your name, it won’t necessarily be given to you. This can be very difficult to deal with, but it’s a possibility that you need to be prepared for.

After separation, you will need to start managing your finances as an individual. For many people, this can mean an increase in living costs, as things like house payments and bills are no longer divided between two.

If you’ve become accustomed to living with shared finances, you might find it useful to keep a record of what your new lifestyle is costing you. Having a budget can help you identify areas where you might be overspending and where you can make savings. You might also want to look into whether or not you’ve become eligible for certain benefits, including child maintenance.

If you have a will and it makes reference to your ex-spouse, you may need to amend it. You can also add a ‘statement of wishes’ to your will, which is just a letter explaining why your spouse is not included.

Once everything is under control, there is a process that allows you to separate your finances from those of your ex. It’s called ‘financial disassociation’, and most credit agencies offer an online form where you can request this. You will need to demonstrate that you no longer live together and that all joint financial products have been closed down. Once this is done, your credit rating will no longer be affected by your ex’s financial status.

Even after a relationship ends, communication is still important. The more you and your ex-spouse can agree with in advance, the simpler the process will be. Hannah Maundrell says:

“Discussing money with your ex may not be an option, but if you can talk things through then it will make life a lot easier. That said, it’s vital you know your rights; you’ll continue to be responsible for repaying joint borrowing, and you’ll both be able to access money in joint accounts.

“Write down all of your shared accounts, debts, policies and investments so you can clearly see where you stand and start separating them one by one until all that’s left to do is financially disassociate yourself from one another via a credit reference agency”.

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Comments

  • Pc Bern Flag

    Hi Springer1,
    It depends on what assets you BOTH have. The fact that you might not have any in your name but your husband does, is something that would be taken into account.

    Thu 14, Jan 2016 at 5:05pm
  • User-anonymous springer1 Flag

    When. You say what assets you have I don't own the property it's my husbands can you clarify plus

    Wed 13, Jan 2016 at 9:58pm
  • User-anonymous springer1 Flag

    Thanks this is really helpful thank you

    Wed 13, Jan 2016 at 9:57pm
  • Pc Bern Flag

    Dear Liz, Are you wanting to separate from your husband but he wants you to stay? As you are married, you have certain rights depending on what assets you have; what you each need and the length of the marriage. It can be difficult to work out exactly what you'd be entitled to but it would be unusual for you to get nothing after 5 years of marriage. It will help if you spoke to a family solicitor or went to mediation - this link will help you find a mediator near to you -http://www.familymediationcouncil.org.uk/find-local-mediator/

    If you would like further support, please put a post on our Forum.

    Sun 10, Jan 2016 at 6:29pm
  • User-anonymous Luz Flag

    since I've been paying towards hourse 5 yrs his has gone up in price we had extension on 30k increase I don't want to take him for half I'm independent can be - he doesn't own all fhouse just over half but I'd have nothing he won't even Pay towards deposit for renting place for me it's so unfair s wh I feel trapped he won't admit agree we got problem which we Have...but says how lucky I am and he takes care of us.. Looks after us pays most bill house etc as though my money each is nothing to him..,in scheme of things then says its,cold outside I may of take. A risk to vein with him give my house all unsettling schools burned married after 2 years living together
    I don't know when I stand but my girl doesn't need to hear the arguing at lager heads round n round we go again I've begged him please let's go mediation wits end

    Sat 9, Jan 2016 at 11:25pm
  • User-anonymous Liz Flag

    This is good for 2.2 kids marriages scenario I wonder if this is same in my situation
    But I live now five years with my husband in his house property & also with my daughter so husbands step daughter-previous who is 12
    My names not on the deeds as its his home even - I pay 450 towards house month his bank account split shopping.
    I had my own social housing house for 9 yrs where my daughter and I lived and paid full rent I work time( always apart from year maternity par time 2 years ) I managed quite well single mum money wise had holidays every yr rent and bills paid
    I believed in us marriage I wanted my girl have a father figure his dad left when she was 7 months part time dad.
    I am 20 yes younger than husband who also had a 25 yr marriage 3 grown up kids. He says I'll have to go find somewhere live asits his house is this True? I work 50:50 from home office here and out field but the upheaval for us would be dreadful. Please help any advise.

    Sat 9, Jan 2016 at 10:53pm