Breaking up with a partner can be one of the most difficult experiences one can go through. Whether it's a mutual decision or one-sided, the process of untangling your life from someone else's can be painful.
In this blog, we explore the top ten things to consider when separating from a partner.
- Take legal advice before you agree anything. You may be tempted to agree a settlement to keep costs down and to avoid arguments. Often clients are worried about seeing a solicitor because the other party has said that they do not need one or are scared that a lawyer is going to make things worse. Going to see a solicitor, however, does not necessarily mean going to Court. Most cases do settle outside of Court. It is absolutely possible to continue to negotiate with your partner, with your lawyer in the background giving you advice; or for both of you to attend with a mediator to try and resolve matters.
- Protect your position at the start. It is vital to take the right steps to protect yourself at the start. If you believe that your spouse is hiding assets or disposing of them to stop you getting a fair share, then you may need to take urgent action. This is important not just in relation to property but also for other assets such as businesses, savings, pensions, investments, trusts, contents, etc.
- Protect yourself online. Couples often share passwords and documents electronically with each other.
- You may be eligible for additional financial support from the government. To find out what benefits you qualify for, access the website - www.gov.uk.
- Notify your Local Authority as you may be entitled to a reduction in Council Tax. If applicable, you should also immediately inform the Tax Credit Office and Job Centre Plus to ensure no over or underpayments are made in relation to any benefit claims.
- Contact your utility supplier company if you are leaving the property and request that the meters are read. Upon settlement, it may be appropriate for your name to be removed from the accounts.
- Protect your liability in relation to joint accounts and credit cards. Your liability in respect of joint accounts is joint and several. You may need to consider freezing the account or make the account joint signatory. Similarly, you will be jointly and severally liable for any expenditure incurred by the joint holder on any joint credit cards. If you fail to protect your position on a joint account or credit card you may suffer financial loss and in the future, this may also impact on your credit rating.
- Consider whether you are entitled to child maintenance. This is generally payable by the parent who does not claim Child Benefit, i.e. it can be claimed by the parent with whom the child lives. This is separate to spousal maintenance. If you can agree this, you can enter a family-based agreement. If no agreement can be reached, then a referral will need to be made to the Child Maintenance Service (CMS). As a starting point, consider the Child Maintenance Options website - www.cmoptions.org
- Make a New Will. If you die prior to the granting of Decree Absolute without a Will, or without updating your existing Will, your spouse, notwithstanding the breakdown of your relationship, may be the main beneficiary of your estate.
- Do not put yourself on the back foot. Steps you take in these early stages may impact on your future. It is sensible to take advice.
We offer an initial Preliminary Advice Meeting at a fixed fee of £180+VAT. This includes an initial consultation for up to 1 hour where one of our specialist solicitors will advise you, taking into consideration your personal circumstances and you will also receive written advice following the appointment. Please note that Legal Aid may be available in some circumstances and we can advise on whether or not you may be eligible at the time of your enquiry.
Please call 0800 542 4245 and ask to speak to the Family Law Team in your area.