When you’re navigating the emotional upset of a relationship break-up, it can be hard to find the headspace to deal with money too.
But after a survey revealed half a million people are plunged into financial trouble every year following a break-up, it seems tackling money should be top of everyone’s priorities during this time.
The survey by credit report provider Noddle found women were more likely to be owed money, left to pay rent or a mortgage alone, or see their credit score suffer. Meanwhile men faced bleaker longterm prospects after a break-up having less support from friends and family, and struggling to recover financially.
In light of these findings, we asked finance and relationship experts about the best ways for couples to navigate money after a break-up.
Make a list of everything you own
Jacqueline Dewey, managing director of Noddle, recommends making a list of everything you own (all your possessions, big and small) so that you can decide in a fair manner how to split your assets.
This can be based on actual value or sentimental value, “but should be equal and agreed upon”.
Divide your finances
Dewey also advises couples to have a think about how you want to split joint bank accounts, divide up savings, remove a name from insurance policies and household bills.
“Make a list of all bills you pay jointly and separately and go through each one to assign responsibility,” she says.
Sort your debts
This is where things can become tricky, according to Dewey. Whether you are married or not, you are only responsible for debts in your own name, even if you have benefitted from the money.
Debts can be a tricky area however and this may be where you need to seek legal advice or speak to a mediator. Relationships psychologist, author and Relate ambassador Anjula Mutanda recommends seeking help from debt charity StepChange or speaking to the Citizens Advice Bureau if you’re unsure where to begin.
Don’t ignore bills
Try to keep on top of your finances during a break-up, as if you ignore letters from companies you owe money to, it will only make your financial situation worse.
Support your kids
If you have children, try to agree on what you will each contribute financially to their care and/or education, says Dewey. This can be a large cost and should be carefully considered.
“Try to split the payments in a way that is fair to both of you, and least impacts your children,” she adds.
Don’t take financial revenge
It goes without saying, but you should never try and get back at your partner by running up debts in their name, freezing an account or not telling them they have a payment they haven’t agreed to.
Take legal action
Last but not least, if your partner refuses to negotiate, or is ignoring your legal rights, you have the right to take your partner to court to mitigate against financial damage. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go that far.