The process of dividing what you own when a relationship ends is not always a smooth one. This section explains how to split up money, property, and possessions when couples separate.
You might prefer to make any agreed financial agreements 'legally' binding. In this case you would need to use a solicitor to draft a 'consent order' (details below).
Getting a fair division on money and property can be a challenge when a relationship breaks down.
Even so, the majority of separated couples can work out, and reach, the financial agreement by themselves. Doing so, can reduce the trauma of a divorce or the end of a civil partnership.
As a rule, the process is less distressing when you and your ex-partner can reach an agreement on dividing the assets.
Reaching an amicable agreement on splitting the money and possessions also means you usually avoid having to attend court hearings.
You can also use the process to agree on child maintenance or you can arrange child maintenance yourself as a separate issue.
The rules differ when sorting out finances on common law separation (e.g. not married or in a civil partnership). Even so, you must still find an agreement on child maintenance payments for any of the children you have.
Note: Some of the processes of dividing money and property when a relationship ends differ outside England and Wales. Read further advice on what to do during partnership breakdowns in Scotland and in Northern Ireland.
There are several organisations that provide professional help and guidance for couples during a separation. You can also get expert help agreeing on money, property, and possessions by:
It's considered as a last resort, but you can ask a court to help divide your assets. As a rule, courts can intervene on anything that you cannot agree on - after getting other help or mediation.
As a rule, you need to show that you attended a meeting to see if mediation will work for you before you apply to a court. But, if it involves social services or domestic abuse it would not be necessary.
Dividing money and property is simpler if you can agree on who gets what. Even so, there are merits for making such an agreement 'legally' binding by creating a consent order.
There may be situations where you need more help on agreeing how to share your assets after separation. You can try using mediation and several other ways to resolve the issue out of court.
Several other options exist even when ex-partners cannot agree on dividing assets. Find out how the court would split money and property and what happens with maintenance payments.
You may need to pay CGT after transferring assets to an ex-partner. Check the tax liabilities if you transfer an asset after separation, a divorce, or the dissolution of a civil partnership.
Note: If you are separating from an abusive partner you should qualify for legal aid to help pay the court costs. You can also get information from the 'Sorting Out Separation' website and the Citizens Advice.
Dividing Money and Property When a Relationship Ends in United Kingdom