How to protect your finances during divorce or dissolution
If you’re getting divorced or dissolving your civil partnership you may have to act quickly to protect your finances – especially if the break-up is acrimonious. You may not need to take all the steps outlined below, but it’s important that you know your rights and responsibilities.
Protecting the rights to your home if you own
If the family home is owned in your ex-partner’s sole name, you can register your interest to make sure it cannot be sold or remortgaged without you being told. This is especially useful if your break-up is acrimonious.
The legal name for registering your interest and how you go about it will depend on whereabouts in the UK you live.
If the property is in both your names, as ‘joint tenants’ – or as ‘joint owners with a survivorship destination’ in Scotland – you may want to change the way it’s owned.
You can still own it between you, but the reason you might want to do this is to stop your ex-partner from automatically inheriting your share of the property if you were to die before the divorce or dissolution was finalised (and vice versa).
There’s more information on your options in Protecting your home ownership rights during divorce or dissolution.
Contacting your mortgage provider
Depending on whose name is on the mortgage, you may need to speak to your mortgage lender to explain what has happened and discuss how you’ll manage the mortgage repayments.
If you have a joint mortgage, you’re both equally liable for the whole loan (and not half each). If you don’t keep up your mortgage payments it could damage your credit rating, which could make it harder to borrow in the future.
Contacting your landlord if you rent
If both your names are on the tenancy agreement, you may be able to arrange to continue the tenancy in your name alone or you may be able to transfer it to your ex-partner.
For more information, read our guide Protect your rights to your home during divorce or dissolution – renting.
Contacting your bank, credit card and loan providers
If you have joint accounts or loans with your ex-partner, you should contact your bank or loan provider to explain what has happened. This is especially important if your break-up isn’t amicable.
With any joint loan, you are each liable for the entire debt. You should ask your bank to change the way the account is set up so that both of you have to agree to any money being withdrawn, or to freeze it.
Be aware that if you freeze the account, both of you have to agree to ‘unfreeze’ it. This may be a problem if your ex-partner doesn’t want to co-operate.
Make sure you stop any wage payments going into your joint account if you’re worried that your ex-partner won’t agree to you taking out this money.
Second credit cards on your account
If you have a credit card account and there’s a second card for your ex-partner, you will be responsible for paying for their spending as well as yours.
You should either ask your ex-partner to give you the card back or contact the card company and find out what you need to do to block the card or remove them from your account.
Protecting other financial assets
You may be able to apply to the court to stop your ex-partner from getting rid of, transferring or selling assets or from moving them abroad if this would prevent a fair financial settlement.
It’s a complex area of law so you should talk to a solicitor as soon as you can.