What to do when you're going through a relationship breakdown

It’s a sad fact of life that some of us will go through the breakdown of a relationship at some point. You and your partner might have had children together, bought a house and even got married or been in a civil partnership. If you find yourself in that position, sorting out what happens can be a difficult process. So make sure you know what steps to take if your relationship breaks down.

What happens when we separate? One of the first things you should do is agree on separation arrangements between you and your ex-partner. This is crucial if you have children, as you will need to decide who will have custody of them. If you can’t reach an agreement, you may need to speak to a solicitor for family law advice to ensure that any differences you and your ex-partner may have on money, property or children are sorted quickly.

What happens with our children?
If you can, try to make arrangements between you and your ex-partner, and to keep this informal. A court won’t decide on who children live or spend time with if parents can sort this out themselves. However, Citizens Advice says you’ll need to go to court if:

● You’re worried about your children’s safety
● You or your children have experienced domestic abuse
● You feel vulnerable, or controlled by your ex-partner
● You’ve tried mediation and cannot agree
● Your ex-partner won’t let you see your children

You and your ex-partner are both responsible for the costs of looking after your children when you separate. If you move out, you may have to pay maintenance to the parent who is looking after them.

What about our home? 
You may have several options available to you. These can include:

● Sell the property and you both move out
● Make arrangements for one to buy out the other
● Keep it and not change who owns it
●Transfer part of the property value from one partner as part of a financial settlement. When the property is sold, the partner who gave up a share of ownership rights will get a percentage of the value.

If you are going through a divorce, then you will need to keep paying the mortgage even if you’ve moved out. If you don’t pay it on time, then your credit history will be damaged, as will your ex-partner’s.

You should also inform your mortgage lender when you know you’ll be separating, especially if you think you’ll struggle to make payments. You may then be offered a payment holiday.

We have other assets too - what happens to them?

You will also need to arrange what happens with your financial assets when you divorce. These can include savings and investments, and any money you owe.

No matter what your situation, you should seek independent advice on what you should do. This can be from a solicitor, or charity or organisation who can give you guidance and where to go for legal advice.

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