We’ve all heard of pre-nups for the rich and famous but those of us who live more “ordinary” lives also should think about finances when going into a relationship and, sadly, if things start to go wrong – don’t let “heart rule head”. I’m grateful to my colleague, Vijaya Sumputh, a Family Law expert at Curwens Solicitors, for her thoughts on this :
PROTECTING YOUR FINANCES FOLLOWING A RELATIONSHIP BREAKDOWN
Beginning a new relationship can often feel like entering uncharted waters. All you want to do is to live happily ever after with your new partner, but people often don’t consider what happens if the relationship ends. A split can have a devastating emotional impact and financial uncertainty adds significant stress to an already difficult time. A recent study suggests that as many as 2 million Britons are in debt because their ex-partner continued to spend after they’d separated – a “dirty separation trick” by a bitter “Ex”.
Here, the Court has the power under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 to split the debt between the two parties based on their financial needs and the Court may award more to the paying party including spousal maintenance to cover the repayments.
There is no such protection for unmarried, cohabiting couples. In long term relationships, many couples set up joint bank accounts (even if marriage is not their immediate plan) to cover mortgage/rent and bills. This normally ends once the relationship comes to an end, because living with someone does not create a legal relationship. So, if a couple has a joint debt and then splits up, both can end up being liable for the debt and one may be stuck with it if the other party doesn’t pay. Unmarried couples must think about what happens to their investments if they split up – if the family home is to be sold, how will the proceeds be split ?
You can protect yourself by getting your solicitor to draft a “Cohabitation” or “Living Together” agreement (also known as a deed) which sets out who pays what and what would happen to the assets if the relationship comes to an end, with a Declaration of Trust as to the ownership of the house. You can also consider using Mediation or negotiation to resolve issues.
It may seem pessimistic to think about a relationship ending when you’re just starting out together, but on the other hand, a break up can be devastating emotionally, so a living together agreement helps with the practical issues, to reach a quick settlement.
If you think what I have described fits your circumstances, do give Vijaya a call for a no obligation chat on 0208 363 4444 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org