If you are unmarried and not in a civil partnership, your relationship ends when you split up - there are no legal formalities. But you will need to bring your joint living and financial agreements to an end. There are some steps you should consider taking immediately to protect your financial position (see Immediate action list).
There is no legal obligation on you and your partner to support each other either whilst you are sorting out the financial agreements or in the future by paying maintenance. So, if you cannot agree the level of support, if any that will be needed, you will have to look at ways of maintaining your income and minimising your outgoings.
Depending on your particular circumstances, you may have a right to share in or take over any property or possessions that are in your partner's name (see Living arrangements and Splitting what you have).
If you have children
You and your partner will continue to have financial responsibilities towards any children you have together. If you cannot agree the level of financial support that is needed, either between yourselves or with the help of a mediator or family lawyer, you will need to make an application to the Child Support Agency (CSA) and in some circumstances the court – (see If you have children).
Couples who live together but are not married or in a civil partnership usually agree what is to happen to their finances and possessions. If you can't come to an agreement or need help to do so, a mediator, or a family lawyer may be able to help – see Useful links.
State benefits and financial support
Becoming single again and the resulting changes to your household income may mean you become eligible for state benefits, such as tax credits. If you were already claiming, you will need to notify JobCentre Plus and/or the Tax Credits Office of any change in your circumstances. See State entitlements and benefits.
Your strict legal entitlements do not prevent you from agreeing your own financial settlement with your former partner, as many people do. If you do so, it may be better to formally record what has been agreed in a legal document called a Deed. A solicitor will be able to help you with this (see Useful links).
You may wish to represent yourself rather than instruct solicitors to present your case for you.Find out more about Representing yourself
During divorce and separation its important to make sure your finances are protected. This section provides information on the important financial considerations you will need to make.Find out more about protecting your finances
If you are unmarried your legal rights to a settlement differs greatly to that of a married couple.Find out more about the settlement
As soon as it is clear you are separating, there are a number of immediate steps you should take to protect yourself.Find out more about Immediate action list