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Our top 5 tips to manage the early stages of your separation

Posted on 15th November, 2017

There's so much to think about when you separate.  Even when you're just thinking about separating, how do you know what to expect and what you should do to prepare?


Well this blog sets out our top 10 tips to enable you to fully manage your divorce and finance, from the initial stages of your separation or even before.  This is Part 2 of our series of tips about how to manage your separation.  Ou previous blog post dealt with tips to help you you and your children manage your separation as easily as possible.



 1. If you have bank accounts or credit cards in joint names, think about either closing those down or putting protective measures in place. When   the account is in joint names, either of you can access that account, withdrawing any balance but also potentially running up an overdraft or credit card debt for which the other person would be ‘jointly and severally’ liable.  This means that you are both responsible for paying it back but one of you could be held wholly responsible for paying back the whole amount.  And that person doesn’t have to be the person who ran up the debt – the bank or credit card company might hold you responsible for paying back the full amount incurred by your ex. To protect yourself, speak to your bank and/or credit card company and let them know that you’ve separated and want to protect your position.  They are likely to have their own procedures in such circumstances but, as a guideline, they might put in place a requirement that you both have to sign for any withdrawal that is out of the ordinary. Of course, ideally the account should be closed but that might not be possible in your particular circumstances – and make sure you don’t close an account from which the household outgoings or anything else is paid without discussing it properly with your ex.


2. Start keeping your financial documentation, and make sure you know where it is. If you need to issue a financial application in any divorce proceedings, or if you discuss finances at mediation, you will be expected to provide ‘full and frank disclosure’ of your financial position.  This includes such things as 12 months’ bank and credit card statements, P60s and 3 months’ payslips or business accounts for the last 3 years if you’re self-employed.  You’ll also be expected to provide a valuation of your pension which can take some time to obtain, so if you’re thinking of issuing a financial application, request your pension valuation asap from your pension provider or HR department.


3. Consider making a new will. If you already had a will, it’s likely that your ex was named as a beneficiary.  If you didn’t have a will but you were married, your ex will be your next of kin so would inherit your full estate (subject to certain limitations) if anything happened to you.  So making a new will is important post-separation.  Similarly, if you own a property together, you may well own it as joint tenants, which means that if anything happened to either of you, the other would inherit the whole property, whatever was in any will.  If you want to avoid that, you should sever the joint tenancy at the same time as making your new will.



 4. Consider talking things through with a professional. Whether you’re ready to go ahead with a divorce or not, a professional can point you in the right direction and might raise issues you hadn’t thought about.  Seeing a professional early-on can help you get a game-plan in place so that you know where you stand and what you will or won’t need to do in the future. It can also give you peace of mind and reassurance at a very difficult time – a professional won’t be emotional about the situation and will be able to assist you calmly and rationally, to do the best for you and your family.  They can also tell you the facts as they apply to your own circumstances, which is preferable to relying on information found online or given to you by well-meaning friends following their own divorces.


5. You don’t have to do anything until you’re ready. There’s no need to take any formal steps regarding your marriage (as long as you consider the protective measures mentioned above).  Don’t feel that you have to issue divorce proceedings simply because you’ve decided that there’s no future in the marriage.  You might want to get on with things, but equally you might need a bit of time before you do anything more formal – and that’s totally fine.


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