Frequently Asked Questions

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Where do we start with finances now we are separating?

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 future lives apart.

Let’s look at the starting points… The 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.

Separating after living together

There are differences when people have been living together without being married or in a civil partnership. Many in this situation think 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.  Money Helper also gives a useful overview of the key financial considerations when considering separation, to help people feel more in control of their situation.