The break-up of any relationship can be difficult, but it can be made so much harder if you’ve been together a long time and there are financial aspects for the two of you to consider. As well as the emotional trauma, dealing with practical matters such as money can only add to the pain, so it’s important that you and your partner tackle the issues in a calm and mature way.
If you are going through a split, rest assured that you’re not alone – data from the Office for National Statistics reveal there were more than 90,000 divorces in England and Wales in 2018. The average duration of marriage among opposite-sex couples who divorced during that period was 12 and a half years, and relationships of that length are likely to involve some form of joint financial commitment, whether it be money invested in a house, car, bank account or anything else.
There’s no denying that conversations with your ex-partner about separating your finances are unlikely to be pleasant, but there are steps you can take to make the process as pain-free as possible.
Try to remain amicable
This is easier said than done, especially if one person feels the other is more to blame for the break-up. But lashing out and trying to punish your ex is unlikely to help the situation and will only make it worse. Try to keep calm, talk rationally, and if you have children together, agree that they should be the number one priority. Any steps you do take should be with their best interests at heart.
Separate joint and individual finances
This is where the process can prove particularly difficult. The two of you need to agree upon what you class as joint finances and what should be treated as individual assets. For example, if you have a mortgage together, you need to decide what to do with the house. If you have equal equity, selling your home and splitting the proceeds down the middle may be the easiest thing to do.
The same goes for a joint savings account – if you’ve both been paying in equally over the years then it should be simple just to take half each. Alternatively, if you have children you may decide to put some of those savings into a trust for them to access in the future.
You also need to discuss which finances you will treat separately. Your salaries and pensions, for example, maybe vastly different but as long as the pair of you reach an agreement that you’re both happy with then there is no right or wrong answer as to how your resources should be divided.
Pay back any outstanding debts
Credit taken out with your ex-partner could be in the form of an overdraft on your joint current account, a credit card, or a loan you applied for together. It’s imperative that you settle these outstanding debts before you move on so that it’s not hanging over you and dragging out the pain of the break-up any longer than necessary.
Once that’s done, you will be able to shut down any joint accounts, which in itself will offer a certain degree of closure for the both of you. Dealing with financial matters on top of everything else is not easy, but as long as you are both prepared to work towards a compromise then you will be better placed to figure it out.
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