Deciding to end a relationship is a significant step that rarely will be taken lightly. In addition to deciding on the most pressing issues such as who will live where, who will pay what, who will spend time with the children and when, there are a number of other issues to be considered that may not immediately be apparent. It takes time and patience to settle arrangements relating to finances. Nevertheless, steps can be taken to safeguard you during any negotiations.

In this article, Beverley Morris & Co.’s experienced family law team detail some of the aspects of separation that may not immediately be obvious but which should usually be considered.

Bank Accounts

For any joint bank accounts that exist with an ex-partner, you will liable to repay any overdraft on the account whilst the account remains in your joint names. You should consider how your joint account will be used and who will need to access any funds.

It is sensible to close any joint accounts as soon as possible in order to limit any potential ongoing liability for the other party’s debt. It is recommended that agreement be reached as soon as possible to decide the amount each party may withdraw from the account before an overall settlement is reached.

If your ex-partner will not consent to a joint account being closed, it is sensible to speak to your bank manager to explain the circumstances. They may agree to “freeze” the account until a formal agreement has been reached.

Where you have joint savings, the party or parties who may withdraw funds from any account needs to be clarified. If you are unsure, check with your bank if the account needs either or both of you to sign for any withdrawals from the account.

If you have a good level of trust between you and your ex-partner, you may decide to leave funds in your joint account. Nevertheless, in doing so, it is sensible for an agreement to be drawn up relating to this. You should do this with the support of a trusted legal practitioner.


When a partner moves out of a shared property (the family home), an agreement should be reached regarding who will be responsible for paying the outgoings on the property whilst negotiations to reach a long-term financial settlement continue. If it is agreed that the partner remaining in the family home will be responsible for the outgoings, the bills should be transferred into that person’s sole name with the relevant provider(s).

Where separation means that one party will remain living in the family home as the only adult, they may be entitled to claim a discount on their council tax bill.

Until responsibility for payment of the bill(s) is transferred, the parties who entered into the original contract with the supplier(s) will remain legally responsible for discharging the bill(s) even if they no longer live at the property. Where bills are transferred into the name of the person remaining in the property, this is typically achieved by giving notice to the supplier and it applies to gas, electricity, telephone, broadband, television licence, repair and maintenance contracts, subscriptions, payments for buildings insurance and contents insurance.


The Benefits Agency will typically assess the parties individually when they separate so as to identify their state benefit entitlement. This could result in the parties’ entitlements changing.

Child Maintenance

Child maintenance is typically an agreement between separated parents to identify the amount one party pays to the other to support the children financially.

Gross annual income is considered by the Child Maintenance Service (CMS) before deciding the appropriate amount payable. Other factors include the number of children and the amount of time they spend with the non-primary carer.

Spousal Maintenance

Where child maintenance is insufficient to make suitable financial provision for the children’s primary carer, it is possible in some cases for to apply for spousal maintenance. This is only possible where the parties are married.

Claims for spousal maintenance are only successful where the applicant is able to highlight the necessity for additional support.


Upon any significant life event, it is essential to review the contents of one’s Will. This includes the buying of a house, having children, starting a business, getting married, separating or getting divorced.

If you separate from your partner, you should consider whether your Will needs to be changed. If it is not amended, its provisions will continue to apply. Similarly, it is important to remember that if either party does not have a Will but the parties remain legally married, the estranged spouse may continue to benefit from the other party’s estate under the rules of intestacy.

Family Law Solicitors Blackheath

At Beverley Morris & Co., we understand the overwhelming nature of separating from one’s partner or spouse. With so much to consider, it can be challenging to know where to begin.

Our specialist family law solicitors are on hand to support you throughout your separation. To speak to us today, please call 020 8852 4433 or email

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