Money & finance for separating couples

The underlying question for nearly everyone who is separating is ‘will I have enough to live on?’ Some people will have been managing the family budget and others will have had nothing to do with it. Some people are comfortable and confident thinking and talking about money, others are less so. There is undoubtedly a lot to think about both at the time of separation and as you plan your separate lives into the future.

Starting points

Law and the courts take the view that where there is a legal relationship (marriage or civil partnership) then the starting point for financial discussions is fairness and equal division. This is often not the end point as there are a range of things to be taken into consideration such as ongoing needs of any children, each person’s earning and mortgage capacity, ability to accumulate a pension and, where there are enough resources, any significant contributions of each partner in the relationship. The starting point is that the needs of the children now are met and then, on the basis that children do better when their parents are happy, that the needs of the parents are met. Sometimes there are not enough resources to arrange things fairly at the time of separation and parents will make agreements to meet the children’s needs now and their own at some time in the future when the children are more independent.

Getting help

Lots of people think that when they live together without being married or in a civil partnership that they acquire ‘common law’ rights as if they were. This is not the case and people who are living together have hardly any rights at all. Where parents are separating after living together and the children are still dependent there are more options but these generally only apply until the children reach independence. To find out more about separating after living together you can visit the Advicenow website

The following simple tool from Money Advice Service gives a useful overview of the key financial considerations when considering divorce, to help people feel more in control of their situation.

Family mediators are trained to take separating partners, whatever their legal status, through the process of sorting out financial arrangements and thinking through all the options available to reach fair and workable agreements.

National Family Mediation (NFM) is a network of professional family mediation providers based in England and Wales that work with families affected by relational breakdown. All providers aim to help clients achieve an outcome that works best for them and their family

National Family Mediation (NFM) services charge £25-£100 for a MIAM, depending on geographical locality, which may include the fee for the completed FM1 form. Meetings usually last for 45 minutes – 1 hour. This includes the means assessment to check whether you will be eligible for Legal Aid, determining whether your mediation will be free or not. Mediation sessions which follow the initial MIAM are charged at a sliding scale according to income, but start at around £80 per session, and usually last up to 1½ hours.

If you would like to get more information about mediation and/or make an appointment you can contact NFM direct on 0300 4000 636 or you can contact a NFM family mediation provider in your area.

All services also take referrals from Solicitors, the court or other helping / support agencies.

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Help and support or separated familes