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How to protect your finances during separation if you were living together

As soon as it’s clear that you’re going to separate from your partner, there are things you might need to do to protect your finances. If you’re not married or in a civil partnership, and your break-up is difficult and you’re on bad terms, you might have to act quickly. Find out what you need to do.

Protecting the rights to your home if you own

Your rights to the property you’re living in depend on:

  • who owns the home
  • whether you’ve made payments towards the mortgage or other costs, and
  • whether you had an agreement that you would be entitled to part of the property.

If the property is in both your names, check how it’s owned.

If you own it between you as ‘joint tenants’ (or as ‘joint owners with a survivorship destination’ in Scotland) you might need to change the type of joint ownership.

This is so your ex-partner won’t automatically inherit your share (and vice versa) if you were to die.

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This is a complex area, so it’s important to get advice from a solicitor who specialises in housing rights or relationship breakdowns of cohabiting couples.

Or, talk to an adviser from a housing rights charity:

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Contacting your mortgage provider

It’s important to talk to your lender if the mortgage is in both your names, or if it’s in your name alone and you think you might struggle to meet the repayments.

Explain what has happened and discuss how you’ll manage the mortgage repayments.

If you have a joint mortgage, you’re both equally liable for the whole loan.

If you don’t keep up your mortgage payments, it could damage your credit rating. This which could make it harder to borrow in the future.

Contacting your landlord if you rent

If both your names are on the tenancy agreement, you or your partner might be able to arrange to continue the tenancy in one name alone.

If only one of you is on the agreement, your rights to do this will depend on the type of tenancy agreement you have.

Contacting your bank, credit card and loan providers

If you have joint accounts or loans with your ex-partner, contact your bank or loan provider to explain the situation.

This is especially important if your break-up isn’t amicable.

With any joint loan or overdraft, you’re each liable for the entire debt.

Ask your bank to change the way any joint account is set up so that both of you have to agree to any money being withdrawn, or to freeze it.

Be aware that if you freeze the account, both of you have to agree to ‘unfreeze’ it.

This might be a problem if your ex-partner doesn’t want to co-operate.

Make sure you stop any wage payments from going into your joint account if you’re worried that your ex-partner won’t agree to you taking out this money.

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Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

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