Separation step by step – communication, personal possessions and finances

Posted by Catherine Morgan on
When a relationship breaks down, it is naturally an uncertain time for couples. There is a lot of information to grapple with and finance, property and children often part of the equation.

Three practical issues that we are often asked by clients seeking a divorce, are:

I want to collect things from the house. I went there but my partner was furious when they got home. I was just collecting some more of my belongings. What rights have I got?

If you have moved out of the family home, do not return as and when you wish to without advance warning. If you are joint owners you both own the house but if you have vacated the property then your partner is also entitled to quiet enjoyment. Suggest a time that you will be visiting and it is helpful to explain why (to collect an item belonging to you, for example) and give plenty of advance warning.

Your partner should not, as a general rule, change the locks on a jointly owned property.

My partner will not sort things out with me directly anymore - they ignore all of my messages. We had an argument via text message but that was when things were still raw. What do you suggest?

If you can deal with one another to sort out practical matters (and take advice if you have questions) then that is often positive.

Avoid the temptation to send messages, emails or make phone calls to your ex-partner that are made in the heat of the moment and do not be too excessive in contacting them either. Sometimes this will be interpreted as intimidating or harassing behaviour and has serious consequences. Keep communications civil and constructive.

Public messages, such as writing on your ex-partners' Facebook wall or sending tweets are best avoided as negative messages in the public domain are likely to be strongly criticised.

I don't know anything about my partners' finances. Can I bring in some information for you to check if I find any?

Do not look for financial and other personal information regarding your partner by going through their computer, their documents or bank statements. Also do not open post addressed to your partner. Request this information – for example, through an exchange of disclosure through solicitors.

We suggest, as Resolution lawyers, that parties aim to be constructive and focus on the long term emotional, practical and cost benefits of their decisions at this time. By starting off matters on the right foot, clients can preserve the remaining goodwill that they have with their ex-partner, allowing them a better chance of resolving matters amicably and cost-effectively.

If you are separating and need advice, contact Blake Morgan's family team. We suggest taking advice at the earliest opportunity. This not only provides reassurance but also ensures that any potential pitfalls can hopefully be avoided. 

About the Author

Photograph of Catherine Morgan

Catherine is a Family Law solicitor and a Resolution accredited specialist, she advises clients in divorce/civil partnership proceedings, financial remedy negotiations and in private law Children Act matters, as well as Cohabitants' disputes and in drafting Deeds of Cohabitation and Pre-Nuptial/Post-Nuptial Agreements.

Catherine Morgan
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