The relentless recession we’re in at the moment has been pointed to as one of the reasons divorce rates in England and Wales have fallen according to figures released at the end of 2012.
But sometimes you just can’t stay together whether it’s for safety reasons or the emotional harm you fear will be done to your children if they go on living in a battleground. But can you afford to leave?
There’s no doubt that women often take the bigger hit in a break-up. We are still the predominant child carers and, even when we do return to work, it is often to part-time hours and a smaller salary. The first thing to do is get good advice. Even if you think you can trust your partner not to play dirty when it comes to financial matters you don’t really know what’s around the corner. Pop to your local Citizens’ Advice Bureau or see a solicitor. Some law firms offer the first 30 minutes consultation for free and, even if you do have to pay their hourly rate, this will prove a sound investment in your financial future.
Get in touch with your mortgage provider or your landlord. Try to come to a mutual agreement with your ex about how the mortgage or rent will be paid, either in the long-term or as an interim measure, until the finances are ironed out. If you can’t come to an agreement seek professional advice and make sure you keep the mortgage lender or landlord up-to-date in the meantime.
You might be entitled to benefits even if you have never claimed before. If you’re a parent you will be entitled to child benefit for each child if you earn less than £50,000* and to a reduced benefit if your earnings are between £50,000 and £60,000.*
You might also qualify for help with housing and council tax costs and for extra money if you or your child has a disability. In April 2013 a universal tax credit replaced a range of benefits such as working and child tax credit, housing benefits and council tax. To see if you are eligible for the new credit,
visit www.hmrc.gov.uk, phone the Tax Credits Helpline on 0845 300 3900 or get in touch with support organisation Turn2Us.
Don’t forget, though, that if you were previously claiming benefits as a couple you will also have to inform HMRC of the change in your circumstances. Not doing so might mean you will have to pay back a lot of money at a later date.
Maintenance is something else you will need to look into if you have children. You might be able to come to a family agreement with your ex-partner either between the two of you or by using the government’s child maintenance calculator. But if things are not amicable or you need your address to remain unknown to your ex you might prefer to go through a statutory child maintenance service.
If you were married you will be entitled to a portion of your husband’s pension (but remember that this works the other way around too!) You might want to divide the pension or set your pension rights against another asset such as the family home. The Pensions Advisory Service will be able to tell you more.
If your partner has left you with nothing but a lot of debt help is available. The most important thing is to be honest with the companies you owe money to as burying your head in the sand or struggling on will make matters worse in the long run. Speak to your gas and energy providers and the telephone company. Sometimes they will offer you a payment ‘holiday’ or allow you to make smaller more manageable payments. The National Debtline is there to help so take a look at its website or call the helpline on 0808 808 4000. And lots of general advice and ideas about money issues can be found at the Money Advice Service.
* Figures correct as of April 2013.
Please note Women Scorned is not responsible for the content of external sites.