Steps an Unmarried Person Should Consider on Separation
There are certain measures you can take to protect your position and that of your dependents. This will help us to advise you.
Should you remain in or leave the home? – You could find yourself at a disadvantage in reaching a financial settlement if you leave. Take advice.
Mortgage – Obtain up to date statements. Inform the mortgage company of the separation. Try to agree responsibility for interim payment of the mortgage. Do you need a payment holiday or to convert the account to ‘interest only’ to reduce payments? Remember, a good payment record is essential to a future application for one party’s release from the mortgage or for more money to fund a settlement.
Bank accounts and credit cards – Do you need to close or freeze joint accounts? Trust may be an issue particularly where there is an overdraft facility. If you have any doubts speak to your bank or credit card provider. Try to deal with your bank account by agreement if possible to avoid missing standing order payments in the changeover.
Endowment policies/other investments – Obtain up to date surrender valuations. Check in whose name(s) these policies are held.
Check your insurance cover – Is your life and earnings replacement cover adequate for your changed circumstances? How dependent are each of you on maintenance or income to meet your outgoings? These can be insured relatively cheaply.
State Benefits – Make sure you are claiming all the benefits to which you are entitled. If you are unsure, arrange to see the local Citizens Advice Bureau Welfare Benefits Adviser.
Child Support – Try to agree this with your former partner. If you cannot agree, either of you can refer this to the Child Support Agency for an assessment of maintenance.
Debts – Check who owes what, whether jointly or in one party’s sole name. Obtain statements. Contact creditors if you have difficulty paying. Consider a composition arrangement with your creditors. Remember, lots of debt counsellors make hidden charges. The Citizens Advice Bureau and several charitable organisations assist free of charge. If the situation is serious, take advice concerning the implications of bankruptcy for you personally and for your dependents.
Valuation of the home – Try to agree this with your partner. You may wish to arrange for local agents to carry out free marketing appraisals to help with this.
Review/make a will – Have you made provision for your partner? Do you still want them to benefit in the event of your death following the separation? What provision do you wish to make for your children? – Take advice if required.
As far as possible, manage the transition to maintain profitability of the business. If it is a Partnership, will one partner retire? If so, consider the taxation implications and whether to seek a formal Deed of Retirement/Dissolution. If it is a Limited Liability Company, will one of you resign his or her Directorship and transfer or sell a shareholding? What is to happen about salary, dividends, profit shares pending settlement? Does the business have goodwill, stock, premises etc and if so, how will you go about valuing the asset? Take advice at an early stage.
Consider inviting your former partner to discuss the future arrangements with you in mediation. Mediation is voluntary and privileged. You can end the process at any time. Nothing you say in mediation can be quoted back at you unless you have taken advice and agreed to it. If you have concerns about safety, inequality or making the wrong concessions, the mediator will always discuss this with you before the process starts to establish whether your case is suitable. You may be eligible for legal aid which means mediation would be free.
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Does your situation require a more tailored approach using a specialist mediator? With the agreement of both parties, we can arrange this as a preliminary step or an alternative to court proceedings. It can save a lot of time and money. Bear in mind also that the court may make orders for costs against parties who have not investigated Alternative Dispute Resolution.
Come and see us
We provide a Free initial interview where you can discuss your situation with a Specialist Lawyer who will help you to understand your rights and obligations and suggest practical solutions.
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