Sort out joint bank accounts, insurance, bills and other finances with your ex-partner

If you and your partner are splitting up, it’s likely that you’ll have some joint finances to sort out – for example, bank accounts or loans. You might have also taken out insurance policies and have bills in both your names that you’ll need to cancel or transfer. Find out what you need to know and do.

Why you might need to act quickly

It’s better to talk to each other about how you’d like to sort out your joint money. Try to avoid closing joint accounts suddenly, leaving your ex-partner to find out later.

But it’s important to act quickly if you think your ex-partner could run up debts on joint accounts. That’s because if you have any joint loans or overdrafts, either of you could be asked to repay the full amount.

It’s also worth thinking about the effect that any joint debt could have on your credit rating. This is because a good credit score means you’re more likely to get cheaper deals when you’re applying for credit.

A reason to check your score is that you’ll be able to see how you’re ‘financially connected’. This is because when you open an account together, you’ll be ‘co-scored’ and your credit ratings will become linked.

You can check your credit score for free, and there are things you can do to improve it.

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Sorting out your joint bank accounts

Try to agree with your ex-partner what you’d like to do with your joint bank account(s).

If you can’t agree, mediation (using somebody impartial) is often a good way to sort out these practical matters.

Find out more about mediation on the Citizens Advice website

It’s worth you or your ex-partner contacting your bank or building society as soon as you know you’ll be separating.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Change the way the account has been set up – so you both have to agree to any money being taken out or overdraft limits being increased.
  • Make sure that your wages or benefits go into an account just in your name in future.
  • Ask the bank to suspend telephone and online banking on any joint account.
  • Work out how you’ll pay bills that are currently being paid from your joint account. It might be that you agree to continue paying certain bills – for example, your rent or mortgage.
  • As a last resort, freeze the account if you’re worried that your ex-partner will withdraw money.  One of you can ask the bank to freeze an account, but both of you usually have to sign a letter to say you want it ‘un-frozen’. Also, consider any difficulties you might face if you have Direct Debits or standing orders coming out of the account, or if you make regular payments from it – for example, your mortgage or rent, bills or food shopping.
  • Close the account, if you don’t have much money in it or you won’t use it in the future. Both of you have to agree – usually in writing – to close a joint account. You won’t be able to do this until any overdraft has been paid off.

Dividing savings

Hopefully, you’ll be able to agree how you’ll divide any joint savings you have.

How the law treats your right to money in a joint account depends on where in the UK you live.

England and Wales

If you’re separating from your partner, money in a joint account belongs to the person who paid it in.

But a partner who hasn’t made a contribution to a joint account could make a claim for a share of it.

However, it can be difficult for them to prove they have rights to the money in a joint account if they haven’t paid into it.

They would need to show that the clear intention behind the joint account was to have a shared fund which each person could use.

If you’re married or in a civil partnership, money in a joint account belongs to both of you equally.

Northern Ireland

If you’re separating from your partner, divorcing or dissolving your civil partnership, money in a joint savings account belongs to each of you equally. This is unless a court decides differently.

Scotland

Money that a married couple or those in a civil partnership have in a joint savings account – that was opened during the marriage or civil partnership – belongs to the account holders in equal shares.

If you can prove that you paid in more money, you might be able to claim more money from the account.

If you’re splitting up after living together, money you have in joint accounts, for household bills or similar, would be assumed to belong to both of you in equal shares.

How you divide your savings might depend on the type of account you have.

Second cards on credit and store card accounts

If you have a credit or store-card account and your ex-partner has a card on the account for their own use, you’re legally responsible for paying their spending as well as your own.

You can either:

  • ask your ex-partner to give you the card back, or
  •  contact the card company and find out what you need to do to block the card or remove your ex-partner from your account.

Even if you think an account is just in your name, check with the lender to make sure your partner isn’t listed as an authorised cardholder.

Sorting out joint insurance

Do you have a home insurance policy in both your names, and your ex-partner is moving out? Then you might have to ask them to sign a form or letter to say that they’re happy for their name to come off the policy.

You might be a named driver on your ex-partner’s car insurance – or they could be on yours. If the policy’s in your name, contact your insurer and ask them to remove your ex-partner’s name (if they won’t be driving your car in future).

Agreeing how to divide the bills

If you, or your ex-partner, are moving out, take meter readings for gas and electricity – so the person moving out isn’t charged for energy they haven’t used.

Taking over an account that was in both your names should be straightforward.

You can normally do this online or over the telephone – but you and your ex-partner will be responsible for paying any money you owe up to that point.

If you want to take over a bill in your ex-partner’s name, the old account will have to be closed and a new one set up.

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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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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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