When a relationship comes to an end, it can be a confusing time for all involved. Whether the dissolution was a long time coming, or a more sudden change, the feelings, emotions, uncertainty, or concern that you may be feeling can make it difficult to clearly see what actions now need to be taken in order to formally finalise the end of the relationship. While it is important not to rush these actions, many people find that tying up loose ends early on can help them to recover and move on with their lives.
The good news is that it is not usually necessary to involve the court in a separation, which can make the process much quicker, easier, and less stressful for everyone involved. In many cases, it is possible for the former partners to work through the necessary steps together, independently. While difficult, accepting that your former partner may not share the same ideas or priorities as you during the separation process can help you to maintain a logical perspective at a very emotionally charged time.
If you and your former partner feel that you can come together to finalise the end of the relationship, you can choose to work through the following necessary actions either independently, or with support and guidance from a family law solicitor who can be on hand to answer any questions for you or help to resolve any issues or obstacles that may arise.
Aspects to consider include:
If you have children together, your biggest priority will be the happiness and welfare of your dependents. Should your living arrangements be changing as a result of the separation, arrangements for any children will be one of the first aspects to take into consideration. If your children are old enough, it is important to talk to them about this so that you can take into account their wishes along with your own preferences and the practicalities of the different options available. You may also wish to consider a child maintenance agreement if the children will be living primarily with you or your former partner.
When a relationship ends, it is normal to consider living separately, although that is not the only option. Due to the costs of running separate homes, and especially the cost of running a home as a single parent, some couples who have split amicably do find that continuing to live together is what’s best for them. Others may choose to move out, or ask their former partner to move out, and some opt to sell their home or terminate their lease, both moving into new residences. It is important to take into account any legal obstacles, like the right to remain in the home, or even visa status following separation.
Unmarried partners may have entered into a cohabitation agreement when they moved in together, and this can reduce some complexities when it comes to dividing assets following a split. However, if you do not have a cohabitation agreement, you will need to work together to separate your belongings. This is not a step that should be rushed, and you should take the time to carefully consider what’s important to you, as well as what is important to your former partner. You may wish to agree to temporarily hold onto certain items to give to your children.
Without a cohabitation agreement, you may also need to work together to divide financial resources. It’s worth taking the time to gain a clear overview of what you each hold in your respective and joint bank accounts and building societies, and create a list of any shared debts, such as credit cards, mortgage payments, or loans. While discussing the issue of money, it is a good opportunity to consider whether either party wishes to apply for spousal support. You may find it useful to work with a solicitor here as it is essential to ensure that the division of financial resources is undertaken fairly.
Informing Necessary Bodies
There are a number of organisations and government departments that you will need to inform of your separation, particularly if you are jointly responsible for bills, if you’re listed on Government records as living together, or if you’re in receipt of any benefits that can be affected by your living or relationship status. A basic list may include:
➔ Tax office
➔ Council tax office
➔ Mortgage lender
➔ Benefits office
➔ Bank or building society
➔ Credit card companies
➔ Loan companies
➔ Phone & internet
Working through these considerations may seem difficult, but many people find that, by accepting the end of the relationship, it is actually much simpler to tie up loose ends than they imagined. However, it is vital that nobody feels pressured or rushed into making spur-of-the-moment decisions that are not right for them, and which could cause problems further down the line. If you are feeling unsure about how to proceed, or if you feel unable to work with your former partner to reach mutual decisions, there are a number of ways that National Legal Service can help you reach a conclusion:
1. Legal Support
Simply working with an experienced solicitor can help you to not only navigate potential obstacles but also prevent issues from arising and, perhaps even most importantly, prevent issues from escalating which can make things more complex.
At National Legal Service, we’re able to recommend formal mediation services for couples who are struggling to work through a separation. Mediation can be highly beneficial in working out differences, especially with regards to finances, property, and children.
3. Separation Agreement
Sometimes, former couples may wish to come to terms with their separation before making any decisions regarding their futures. In this case, drawing up a separation agreement with National Legal Service can make it easy to move forward when ready.
4. Court Hearing
It is always hoped that through legal support, mediation, and separation agreements, former couples can finalise the end of their relationship without the escalation of issues. However, there are some instances where it may not be possible to reach a suitable agreement. At National Legal Service, we support you every step of the way should you need to take matters to the court. Court hearings although daunting can act as a way to resolve issues that you have been unable to sort independently.