When you go through a breakup, finances are usually the last thing on your mind. However, in a separation or a divorce, money is often one of the most contentious issues between you and your ex-partner.
Although it’s difficult in the immediate aftermath of a breakup, there are several simple steps you can take to ease the process of financial separation, and protect yourself in the long run.
James Andrews, senior personal finance editor at money.co.uk, said: “Most of us have been through a breakup at some point in our lives, so we all know how tough the initial days are following the split.
“Even though it’s difficult, the immediate aftermath of the breakup is when you have to be the most proactive with your finances, or you could end up in a great deal of trouble later down the line.
“If you have a joint bank account with your former partner, freeze it immediately. Regardless of what has happened between the two of you, your credit ratings are still linked, so if you owe any money to lenders and one of you fails to pay it back – your credit ratings will suffer equally.
“Freezing your joint account levels the playing field with your ex-partner when it comes to splitting the funds, as you’ll both be in the same position financially.
“If you don’t freeze the account, there’s a possibility that your ex-partner could withdraw some or all of the cash before you begin to discuss finances, putting you in a much weaker negotiating position from the start.
“Once you’ve closed your joint account, it might be an idea to apply for financial disassociation, which will ensure your credit reports are completely separated. You can do this by contacting a credit reference agency such as Experian, Equifax or TransUnion.
“If you have a savings account with your partner, splitting the funds can be trickier, as you’re relying on their good faith to divide the cash equally. If you’re worried about not getting your fair share of the funds, you can bring in a mediator to handle the negotiation, but this comes with a hefty bill, and is best avoided if possible.
“Even though it’s easier said than done, the easiest way to ensure a smooth financial separation is by keeping an open and amicable line of communication with your ex, as it gives you the best possible chance to calmly and fairly divide your finances.
“If it’s not possible to reason with your partner, it may unfortunately fall to a court to untangle your finances. In that situation, it’ll place you in a much stronger position if you can prove you’ve been willing to communicate openly from the start, and your partner hasn’t.
“For tips on how to separate your household bills, mortgages and more, visit our comprehensive guide to financial separation, found here: https://www.money.co.uk/guides/how-to-separate-your-finances-from-your-ex-partner.htm”
James has spent the past 15 years writing and editing personal finance news, specialising in consumer rights, pensions, insurance, property and investments - picking up a series of awards for his journalism along the way.