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Separation: who owes what?

Separation: who owes what?

Separating from your partner is never easy on many levels, especially if you have been living together and have bought various assets together. While splitting your CD collection might be a simple task, it is important to know where you both stand financially.

Your rights differ depending on whether or not you were married.


When it comes to separation, if children are involved, then it is most important to know how to make the split easier for them. This doesn’t just mean in an emotional way, but also financial. You are both still responsible for the financial well being of your children, even if during the separation one is not living with the child.

The preferred way to deal with child maintenance during a separation is for both parties to sit together and negotiate a settlement. This means you don’t need to go to the courts or get legal advice, making the situation somewhat easier to deal with. It also allows you to have a flexible agreement in which you decide for yourselves how much will be paid and if any situations change, you can easily update the agreement.

If your split isn’t amicable and you can’t come to an agreement together, then you will need to use the courts or the Child Maintenance Service. However, there will be fees involved in this, and can be not only financially, but also mentally exhausting.

If you are on benefits because of a low income, child maintenance will not affect your council tax benefit, housing benefit or tax credits.


When it comes to debt during a separation, you are responsible for those that are in your own name. Any debts that are solely in your partner’s name are not your responsibility. However, you might be responsible for any debts that are in joint names, regardless of who has actually been paying for the debt or service.

It is very important to know what is owed and where you both stand with regards to debt. Get a credit report to be 100 per cent clear. If you can both come up with an agreement to pay what is jointly owed, then that is highly recommended. Look to get a court order drawn up also to protect yourself in the future.

If you can’t come to an agreement with regards to debt then don’t be afraid to seek help from a professional who can give you advice. Although solicitors can be expensive, if it helps prevent any financial issues, then it is well worth giving them a go.


Mortgage payments can only add to the stress of a separation. It is most important to look into the long term future. Can one of you afford to stay in the property and buy the other person’s share? Will you have to sell the property instead? While you decide on the final outcome, make sure the mortgage payments are still paid each month or you will risk getting into serious financial trouble. If both names are on the mortgage, then it is the responsibility of both parties to make sure all payments are made.

Speak to your mortgage company as soon as possible and let them know what is happening. They may be able to offer you other options to think about in such circumstances.

Again, should neither of you be able to come to an agreement, seek legal advice.

Money and Possessions

Any bank account that you had in your own name belongs to you only, however, any money in a joint account is usually deemed to be split 50 per cent between you both.

With regards to possessions, for anything that was bought jointly, you tend to own the share of which you put towards said item. For example, if you put £50 towards a £200 computer, then you own a quarter of the computer. You will have to decide how to split the items in a fair way, preferably depicting the share of which the item is owned.

Separation is never an easy thing to go through and the added worries of financial strain are something that, in an ideal world, would not come into play. However, there are ways in which it can be made slightly more manageable.

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