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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Splitting money and possessions if you're not married or in a civil partnership

When you stop living together, each of you usually owns whatever you’ve paid for. You may be able to agree between yourselves about how to divide things up, or you may need help. Find out how you can fairly divide money and possessions if you stop living together.

Getting an agreement about money and possessions

Getting an agreement about money and possessions when you split up can be difficult.

If you’re finding it difficult to reach an agreement, you could use a mediator to help.

Bank accounts and investments when you split up

Money in bank accounts, savings and investments in your name only are usually treated as being yours alone

The arrangements you make about bank accounts and investments when you split up will depend on whether they’re sole or joint accounts.

Accounts in your name

Money in bank accounts, savings and investments in your name only are usually treated as being yours alone.

But sometimes your former partner may say that they have contributed or you agreed to share the accounts. If this happens, they may be entitled to part of them.

Joint accounts

If you have joint accounts, legally these are treated as each of you owning half the money in the account.

But if your partner can prove that they put more money into the account, they may be able to argue that they’re entitled to more of it.

Dividing possessions when you split up

When you split up, possessions are generally treated as being owned by whoever bought them. Your partner doesn’t have an automatic right to anything you’ve paid for by yourself.

If you’ve bought things together, you each own a share based on how much each of you contributed. For example, if you bought a bed together for £400 and you contributed £100 towards it, you would own a quarter of it.

You should start by working out what both of you will need when you’re living separately. For example, you’ll both need a bed, sofa, and some kitchen equipment.

It’s a reasonable starting point to assume that you each own half of any items that are jointly owned. But you may find that sometimes there are good reasons to agree that one partner owns a larger share than another. For example, one of you may have wanted an item more and paid a larger share of the cost.

You should be flexible when you’re negotiating if you can.

You may want to pay your former partner to ‘buy them out’ of some goods you want. They may want to do the same, and pay you for some items.

If you can’t share something – for example, you may only have one sofa – you can make other arrangements. One partner might keep the sofa, while the other may take an agreed amount of money from a savings account to buy another one.

Reaching an agreement over valuable items

Hopefully you’ll be able to agree on who will keep most ‘day to day’ items. But if you own valuable items, like jewellery, cars or art, it may be more difficult.

You should get a value for any items like this, so you both know what they would be worth. You may have to pay someone to give you a valuation.

Once you know how much the items are worth, you may be able to agree who gets what on the basis of the items’ value.

Making a legal agreement about your money and possessions

You could think about getting a legal agreement when you split up that shows who’s going to get what. These are often called ‘separation agreements’.

If you can reach an agreement between yourselves or with help from a mediator, you can ask a solicitor to put it in writing for you. This may help avoid any disputes later on.

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