Unmarried Couples: Your Finances
What Will Happen To Your Finances?
It is a widely held belief that when you have been living with a partner, sharing a home with them and even raising a family together that you have a legal responsibility to support each other financially.
This is not the case. In fact you have no financial responsibility towards each other while you are living together or after you split up.
Unlike married couples, therefore, you are not entitled to receive maintenance payments from your partner even if you have lived together for a number of years or given up your career to look after the home and the children.
As parents, you both have a financial responsibility towards your biological or adopted children whether you are married or not or cohabiting or not.
Both parents are financially responsible for their biological or adopted children regardless of whether they are married or co-habiting. Maintenance is not connected to contact arrangements in that you are still financially responsible for your children whether you have contact with them or not.
The Child Support Act was introduced in 1991 and operates under the principle that both parents are responsible for looking after their child financially. When parents split up, the non-resident parent (often the father) is required to pay Child Support to the primary care giver (often the mother).
Many parents find they can come to a consensual arrangement about maintenance on their own and do not need to involve a third party and in these cases the CSA does not become involved. If an informal agreement it is not possible, however, the CSA can work on behalf of the primary care giver to calculate and recover maintenance payments. The CSA has an child maintenance on-line calculator to help you work out how much you should pay.
Many couples today are living with a considerable amount of debt. It may be that when you moved in together you each brought your own debts, or it could be debt you incurred whilst living together.
If you split up, you are only responsible for the debts that are in your name. Therefore, if the debt is in your name alone you are liable for it. Where loans or agreements are in joint names, you cannot pay ‘your half’ and then walk away: you are both jointly liable for the full amount until the balance is clear.
While the debt remains in both your names, you may be linked with your ex-partner in terms of credit rating even if you no longer live together. You can contact credit agencies and ask them to remove the link between you and your ex-partner.
If you are separating and experiencing difficulty paying the debts you are liable for it can be a very worrying time. These days there is a good deal of help and advice available and it is always better to act quickly rather than bury your head in the sand. Your local Citizen’s Advice is a good place to start.
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