What impact could Divorce/Legal separation have on your joint savings

What impact could Divorce/Legal separation have on your joint savings
8th December 2022

What impact could Divorce/Legal separation have on your joint savings

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together” — Marilyn Monroe

Relationships can fall apart for several reasons, and during covid-19, many couples broke up because of constantly being under each other’s feet and realising they no longer had a lot in common or were no longer in love. According to a guardian article, breakups of romantic and non-romantic relationships increased during the pandemic, with more than 1 in 5 dissolving their relationship at home or work.

The research conducted by University College London’s Covid-19 Social Study, the UK’s most extensive survey of social bonds, found that 22 per cent of adults went through a dissolution of a relationship of some kind, with family, friends, colleagues, or neighbours. The college analysed how relationships and lifestyles adapted during the pandemic, and more recorded data of more than 70,000 people.

However, according to ‘Office for National Statistics (ONS), there were 103,592 divorces in 2020 in England and Wales, a drop of 4.55% compared to 2019; most were among heterosexual couples (98.9%).

In addition, it is also important to note that the Ministry of Justice had revealed beforehand that the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted family court proceedings, which included a short-term postponement of operations by some courts for some time, which may have affected the time and number of finalised divorces in 2020, though it is hard to know how much this may have had an impact.

When couples are in relationship bliss, they sometimes decide to share their finances, such asjoint savings and other finances, but if a relationship reaches its untimely end, it can be challenging to know how to divide the finances and other assets after separation.

How to understand your finances?

Put together all your financial documents and statements for mortgages, bank accounts, loans and investments. You must look at your documents to ensure you have a good idea of how your finances are shaping up. Start by listing a breakdown of your salary and outgoing and putting together a revised household budget.

Division of savings

If you have joint savings and are separating, you should agree on how mutual savings will be divided. In the eyes of the law, the policies on entitlement to funds in a joint account after separation depend on where in the UK you reside.

England and Wales

After two former partners decide to cut ties, the money in a joint account goes to the person who paid into the account. However, even if one partner has not contributed, a claim can still be made to have a part of it. Although, it will be hard to prove that they are entitled to the funds in the joint account if they have not made any contributions.

The partner who did not pay into the joint account would have to show that the purpose of the account was for both partners to have joint finances, which both partners could use. Married or people who are in a civil partnership have an equal right to cash in a joint account.

If, while you were on good terms with your partner, you opened a joint current account, loan, credit card or investment with your ex. It is recommended by banks that you contact your bank, credit card company or other suppliers to tell them what has unfolded. You could also ask them to freeze joint accounts to avoid your former partner mounting new debts or withdrawing without your knowledge. You must ensure that any combined bills can still be paid for using Direct Debit or standing order.

Division of other finances

Write a list of all the matters you share in common with your past love, such as:

  • Personal assets like furniture or jewellery

  • Cars

  • Funds deposited into bank accounts such as joint accounts

  • Savings and other investments

The list does not have to contain all your possessions. It might be worthwhile to include assets worth £500 or more or anything you want to keep a hold of to facilitate the process.

You should also include other vital details such as debt, bank overdraft, credit card debts or hire purchase arrangement (Citizen’s advice).

Even if your debts are shared, you are mutually accountable for the entire sum, not just your part. If your former other half fails to keep up with debts after you two are no longer an item, you will need to pay the debt yourself.

Irrespective of whether you and your ex-flame are still on talking terms, it is best to ensure you have a plan in place to pay off shared debts. If you are concerned that your ex may fall through with payments, you might have to consult a solicitor.

Second cards on credit and store card accounts

If you are a credit or store account holder and your ex has a card on their account, by law, you are seen as accountable for your spending and theirs.

Your options are to either:

  • Ask your ex-partner for the card back

  • Alternatively, contact the card company to block the card or eliminate your old flame from your account.

You may think that just your name is on the account, but it is best to ensure that the account is only in your name by checking with your lender that your partner is not on the list as an approved cardholder.


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However, if you decide to combine your finances and belongings with your romantic companion, it is essential to be aware before making any alterations to finances or possessions of what happens if your relationship crumbles and you separate or divorce; that way, you know what you are getting yourself into.

On the other hand, if you have already taken the plunge, you can still work together with your ex-flame to iron out the details of how your mutual finances and other possessions should be divided. Hopefully, an amicable understanding can be reached to avoid adding more turmoil to an already stressful experience.

We hope this guide has been helpful and remember that sometimes things fall apart to make way for something better.