Site Logo
Site Logo

How to prepare for divorce when your partner handled the finances

11 July, 2017

You don’t have to go through divorce alone. Friends will wipe away the tears. We’ll help you keep hold of your money. Here’s your beginner’s guide.

Now is the time for action. Broken hearts aside, going through divorce will be a tough old slog – especially if you’re not the one who looked after the family finances. But tempting as it can be, you literally can’t afford to bury your head in the sand. There are assets to split and expenses to plan, and if you let your ex take the lead you could lose out. But we’re here to help you through it.

Where do I even begin?

For starters, you need to know what you have, what you owe, and how that’s set to change. It’s no small task if you’ve been in the dark for most of the relationship, but don’t worry – it is achievable.

With that in mind, what follows now are the main financial areas you should think about. Once you’re familiar with these, and are ready to go into more detail, read our full Divorce Fact Sheet ( and Distressed Divorced learning path (

Home and mortgage

Living together isn’t working, so the first things to think about are who stays where and who pays what. Banks are usually sympathetic about divorce and will give you a payment holiday on the mortgage while you figure it all out. But this won’t last forever, so prioritise agreeing on at least a short-term payment solution.

Talking points to guide your agreements

• How much is the mortgage every month?
• How much can you each afford to pay on the mortgage every month?
• How will you split the payments until you have a longer-term agreement?
• Will you have to sell the family home when one of you moves out?
• Has the property increased in value since you bought it?

More about mortgages and divorce (

Pensions and savings

Unsurprisingly, your house will probably be the most valuable thing you own together. Second to that will likely be your combined pension pot, so do not leave it out of the equation when you’re divvying up the assets.

Talking points to guide your agreements

• Where are you and your partner’s private and workplace pensions held (there could be quite a few) and what are they worth?
• Are you entitled to the state pension if one of you has given up work?
• Are there any other long-term savings, company schemes, or stocks and shares you should know about?

More about pensions and divorce (

Child support

What’s best for the kids? That’s what a court will think about if you get them involved (a last resort as it easily costs £2,500 a day), and it’s what you need to focus on too. Use this Parenting Plan ( to go through all the practical parenting issues – such as who will live with who – and then work out the maintenance costs.

For couples with a household income of under £156,000, simply use this child maintenance calculator ( Earn more than that? You can apply for top-up maintenance too, but it’s best to try and agree yourselves.

Talking points to guide your agreements

• How much do you realistically spend on the kids, from bills to food to clothing?
• How much time will they spend with each parent when you live apart?
• Are there specialist costs associated with education, disability or anything else?

Insurance and wills

You may have been taking health or life insurance for granted, covered by your partner’s employment benefits or private plans. The same goes for your will, so make sure you know if you have one and who your beneficiaries are, and get ready to update it. Now’s the time to find out what you will have once you’ve parted ways, and what you might need to cover yourself.

More about life insurance (
More about wills (

Financial advisors

Whereas court is something to avoid if possible, costing around £2,500 a day, financial advice is a great idea that should only cost around £150 to £250 a session. If you’re not a finance whizz yourself, it’s well worth getting help from someone who is.

Check out ( and ( for help choosing a reputable advisor in your local area.

We hope this isn’t all feeling like too much to handle. It will be hard. It will hurt. But you will get through it. If you have any specific questions, ask us for free ( And when you’re ready, read more of the detail on our full Divorce Fact Sheet ( Distressed Divorced learning path ( Good luck.