As soon as it is clear that the separation is going ahead, try to agree urgent, short term financial matters with your partner. If you cannot agree or are worried your partner may deal with the finances without telling you, consider taking the following steps to protect your position:
- If the family home or other property is owned in your partner's sole name, you may want to register your interest at the Land Registry using a 'restriction'. This will protect you as far as possible from your partner trying to sell, transfer or mortgage the property without your knowledge or agreement. For more details, contact www.landreg.gov.uk/
- Consider severing the joint tenancy [see – Jargon Buster] of any jointly owned property - see Different types of ownership.
- Contact your bank, credit card and any other providers, if you have joint accounts or loans. Explain what has happened and instruct them to stop your partner running up any new debts or withdrawing funds. If you decide to freeze the accounts, it will have consequences for you both so make sure you consider this carefully. It will mean that you can't access the account either so you will need to make agreements to ensure you have access to cash whilst things are being sorted out. You will also need to make agreements to ensure that any joint bills can still be paid for example by direct debit and standing order.
- Change the password on any bank accounts and accounts with any gas, water or electricity providers or the services or hire purchase agreements that you are responsible for.
- Change your password on your computers and email accounts to prevent access by your partner or others.
- Contact your landlord if you rent and if you alone want to stay in your current home. You may be able to arrange to continue the tenancy in your name alone - see Living arrangements for details of how to do this.
- Contact your lender if you have a mortgage whether in your name or jointly. Explain what has happened and discuss how you'll manage the mortgage repayments.
- Check whether you are eligible for tax credits and state benefits by talking to the Tax Credits Office and Jobcentre Plus. For help understanding your entitlement and claiming benefits, go to Directgov's online benefit advisor tool or contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau.