You’ve decided to separate, how do you de-merge your money?
Your relationship is over and it’s time to move on and rebuild your own life. In amongst everything else you are dealing with; you will have to talk about your finances and start the process of separating them. De-merging your finances in divorce is very challenging.
In a perfect world it would be great if you and your partner could sit down together and work through this process, it will be much easier if you can, but money is one of the hardest things to talk about when your relationship is going well, and so if you don’t feel that this is an option for you, don’t force the issue.
How to start talking de-merging finances
Here are three things that you can do yourself to start the process of talking through your money with your ex.
- You need to know what you owe and to whom. This is important as you need to find out if you have any personal guarantees, or future liabilities for any debts you may have signed together. Also, are there any facilities that either one of you could draw down without the other knowing about it? On the flip side are there any savings that either one of you could draw out without the other knowing about it or needing consent? Start by looking online at your banking structure, or you could pop into your local bank and have a chat with a staff member, have them make a note on the file that you are in the process of separating, at least that way they can be alerted to any ‘strange’ banking behaviour.
- Know your numbers. In the process of separating, one of you has probably moved out and is renting somewhere, this could mean that your expenses have doubled but income has stayed the same. How long can you sustain this? How are you going to meet joint expenses? How are you going to pay for your children’s expenses? If you can keep your joint account going and use this to meet your joint expenses during the transition phase this is ideal. The last thing you want to happen is any blips in your credit rating if bills get missed, or worst-case scenario a default on your mortgage. If your partner won’t engage in conversation with you about this, do the best you can and enlist the help of your legal advisers to help you work through it.
- You are now an individual. If you don’t already have them, you need to open your own bank accounts and credit cards. Transfer your salary into your new account, then transfer however much you have agreed for joint expenses back to the joint account. Start looking at your lifestyle and start planning what life is going to look like for you in the future, do you have sufficient income to sustain it? Can you borrow money in your own name to purchase a property? If you have concerns about your partner’s creditworthiness you might even go to the extent of doing a credit check on yourself to make sure there hasn’t been any unusual activity going on. Ask if they can put a note on your file to say you are separated.
But you need to prioritise this part of the process.
I completely understand that you have enough on your plate and having to visit the bank, and trawl through bank and credit card statements is just another task on the to do list. I have seen too many times where money has been taken out of the bank by one partner and the other doesn’t know and they can’t get it back until settlement (which can be quite a long way off).
This advice and this process is about protecting yourself and your share of the assets for your future and your children.
Guest author Lynda Moore runs Money Mentalist, an advisory business that helps you to Re-set Your Money and Change Your Life! She is one of the Equal Exes Expert advisors. Find out more and contact Lynda
Workbooks to help you
Equal Exes Online is your place to find help to guide you through separation and divorce. We offer self-guided workbooks and informational articles (like this one) which can help you be better informed, work out your priorities and how to move smoothly beyond your current relationship. Find all our workbooks here.