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Financial issues if you split up from your partner

This page has a brief overview of financial issues you'll need to consider if you are splitting up from your partner, including housing costs and what happens if you have any debts. If you are getting divorced, the division of your finances will be settled as part of the divorce process.

Housing costs

If one partner moves out of the family home, this can cause problems for the remaining partner when it comes to paying the rent or mortgage. Read the page on help with housing costs to find out more.

Child maintenance costs

The pages on help with housing costs and financial support for parents have information on how you can get help with housing costs if you are responsible for bringing up a child.

Bank accounts, savings and credit cards

If you and your partner have any joint bank accounts or savings, you will need to close them and divide the money between you when you or your partner move out. If you're afraid your partner will empty an account before you can close it, you can ask the bank to freeze it so neither of you can take any money out. If you have any joint credit cards, you should cancel them and ask for a new one to be issued in your name only.

Insurance

If you and your partner have any joint insurance policies (for example, for buildings or contents insurance) you will need to get these transferred into the name of the person who is remaining in the home.

Pensions

If you have nominated your partner to receive your work or personal pension or any other pension related benefits when you die, you may wish to change this nomination. Speak to your human resources (HR) department or pension provider about this.

Wills

If you have made a will naming your partner as your heir, you may wish to change this if you split up. Speak to your solicitor about changing your will. If you are married or in a civil partnership and do not have a will, you should speak to your solicitor about making one. If you die without a will while you are still married or in the partnership, some of your assets will automatically go to your partner. This might include your share in your home if you own it or are a joint owner. If you jointly own your home with your partner, you need to be especially careful if you have a survivorship clause (or 'destination') in your title deeds. You can find more information on all these matters in our section on death in the household and the page on making a will.

Council tax and bills

You will both continue to be liable for council tax and utility bills for the property, even after one partner has moved out. Therefore you'll need to contact the council and electricity and/or gas supplier to let them know that one partner has moved out, and to transfer the bills into the remaining partner's name. If you are now the only adult in your household liable to pay council tax, you can apply for a 25 percent discount.

Benefits

If you are claiming benefits, you must let the relevant benefits agency know your change of circumstances as soon as possible. It may affect the amount of benefit you and your partner receive.

Tax credits

If you have been claiming tax credits as a couple, you will need to put in new, separate claims when you split up. If you don't do this within three months of separating, you may have to pay a penalty.

Debts

You will not be liable for any of your partner's debts (for example, for credit cards or bank loans) unless you have taken them on together as joint debts, in which case you will be jointly and individually responsible for paying them. This is the case even if you are married or in a civil partnership. You will need to work out a payment plan with your partner for any joint debts. Get advice from the National Debtline Scotland or your local Citizens Advice if you are being pursued for your partner's debts, or if you cannot reach an arrangement with your partner to pay off joint debts.

If you are concerned that your ex-partner's debts will damage your credit rating, you can ask for their details to be removed from your credit record. This is known as 'financial disassociation'. You can only apply for financial disassociation if you and your partner now live at separate addresses and don't have any financial links (such as a joint bank account). The websites of the main credit reference agencies, CallCredit, Equifax and Experian, have more information on how to get a financial disassociation.

Scotland map Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.
This content applies to Scotland only.
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The important points

  • If you and your partner have any joint bank accounts or savings, you will need to close them and divide the money between you when you or your partner move out.
  • If you have nominated your partner to receive your work or personal pension or any other pension related benefits when you die, you may wish to change this nomination.
  • If you have made a will naming your partner as your heir, you may wish to change this if you split up.
  • You will both continue to be liable for council tax and utility bills for the property, even after one partner has moved out. Therefore you'll need to contact the council and electricity and/or gas supplier to let them know that one partner has moved out.
  • You will not be liable for any of your partner's debts unless you have taken them on together as joint debts, in which case you will be jointly and individually responsible for paying them.

If you're still looking for help, try searching, or find out how to contact us

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