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An increasing amount of women and men have split from partners because of money issues. Kerry from our Family law team explains when to ensure your finances are separate where and when they might benefit from teamwork.

Financial infidelity cannot only destroy trust in a relationship but can also endanger the financial security of both parties for many years to come. Here are some of the tell-tale signs many have encountered in the run up to a divorce or separation.

Splashing the cash?

Have they been hitting the designer stores or going on lavish golf breaks? If there are any unknown transactions on a joint bank account or credit card, it is important to communicate with the other partner or spouse in a calm manner and invite them to explain their expenditure. It is also wise to set up regular family meetings and plan a monthly budget. If contemplating a divorce, it is worth consulting with a Solicitor at the earliest opportunity as to the whether or not any reckless or wanton expenditure by one spouse can be taken into account by the Family court when determining a fair settlement

Joint Accounts and Finances

You may also wish to limit payments made into a joint account or make sure your salary is paid into an account in your sole name. As a last resort you may also wish to freeze the joint account but just bear in mind that you may encounter difficulties if you have any Standing orders or Direct Debits coming out of the account.

Keep an Emergency Pot

It is increasingly difficult in the current economic climate to set money aside each month but if you can open and contribute towards your own savings account then it is important to set up a rainy day fund.

Debts and Credit Cards

After a marriage breakdown one spouse often discovers the existence of credit card debt belonging to the other which he or she wasn’t aware of during the marriage. Although this debt will ultimately remain the responsibility of the borrower, this may have a financial impact on the other spouse and may ultimately have to be repaid out of the family budget. In divorce cases, the Family Court has no power to transfer credit card debt but it could entertain arguments from the borrower that the credit card debt is “matrimonial debt” (i.e. debts accrued due to spending during the marriage in relation to which you both spouses benefitted) and the borrower may seek to argue that this debt must be discharged for example from the sale proceeds of the family home.

Pensions

Expert legal advice cannot only assist when it comes to sorting out the arrangements for the family home or other property, it can also assist in securing your financial position upon retirement. Many married and newly separated couples aren’t fully aware of what rights they have in terms of their own and their spouse’s pensions. This I find troubling because in a great deal of marriages, I find that the pensions are the most valuable assets. In relation to pensions, expert advice can assist in working out if there is a disparity in terms of both spouses pensions and if so, how any such disparity can be bridged for example by offering the weaker party a pension sharing or pension attachment order or by giving the weaker party more capital assets instead of a pension claim.

If you have any concerns about finances or require advice in relation to a separation or divorce and would like to know about the various options open to you, you may contact Kerry Russell, Associate Family Solicitor by calling  0161 930 5151 or email kerry.russell@gorvins.com