This is a vintage SYBD post about joint finances after a breakup. Written by a dear friend Neil Bellamy, at the time of our launch, it is just as relevant today - twenty one years later.

Let’s Talk Joint Finances After a Breakup

If you are going through a tough break-up and have joint finances, one of your first stops to make should be your bank. I know it is the last thing you feel like dealing when lumbered with a broken heart but it could pay off in the long run. 

Perhaps you are thinking, “oh my EX would never do something like that” – think again. Not all couples split up their relationship and handle their joint finances in an unscrupulous way, but it does happen. We have all heard the stories where ex-lovers or partners have gone and emptied bank accounts, ran up extensive credit card debt, and even fraudulently extended mortgage lending – only to squander away the money. We always think that it won’t happen to us but the fact is that it could quite easily happen to you…Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

Take these simple steps to protect yourself:

When you split up, you should immediately contact your local bank to empty your bank account, cancel all automated payments, and place a “stop” on the account. Remember to pay all bills, which will maintain credit worthiness.

Open a new single named account, and if you normally have your salary paid directly into your bank, divert it to the new one, and set up the automated payments again. If you miss a few payments, you could quite possibly end up with bad credit that takes years to sort.

Contact all credit card companies (including store cards, etc.) requesting that all “second” cards are stopped immediately! Do you have a second mobile telephone on your bill? If so, cancel it or else you just may be hit with huge phone bills!

Savings accounts and any investments need to be considered. Unless there is a requirement for both signatures, close the account immediately, and place the proceeds in a new single named account before your EX beats you to it. Yes, it sounds sinister, and maybe they wouldn’t do it to you, but chances are if it was a bad break-up you will have just discovered you don’t the person as well as you thought you did – why take the chance?

Consider you investments

If you are married, consider any retirement/pension funds that you/they might be entitled to.

See your lawyer/solicitor to discuss any jointly owned property and family issues (specialists may be required). If you own a property, see your money lender. Make inquiries about investments linked to the mortgage – in particular any mortgage repayment vehicles (e.g. endowment policies). Seek advice from suitably qualified advisors whenever possible.

Immediately apply for any legal aid that you may be entitled to (if you need it), as processing times may be significant. Never underestimate the costs of litigation – it soon mounts up!


Be certain to inform your employer, payroll departments and personnel where applicable. This especially the case when claiming married people’s allowances.

Separation is one of the main factors which causes financial difficulties & ; mortgage repossessions, bankruptcy, even multiple late payments will prevent you from obtaining credit in the future. So please don’t get caught out.

Measures that can be taken now are:

  • Write a new budget
  • Plan your finances
  • Use any investments you may have to pay bills and joint debts
  • Don’t hide from money issues – they always catch up to you, eventually

If you find that you are in a hopeless situation, contact your mortgage lender immediately, further assistance can be sought from any government-sponsored debt counseling agencies (eg. in the UK we have the Citizen’s Advice Bureau). They may offer mediation services and therefor help with finance and custody issues.

In conclusion

A number of us here as have been caught out, so we don’t want you to make the mistakes that we have made. We want you to be ready in the event that the unthinkable happens.

Have you got a story to tell about joint finances? Let us know in the comments section. Speaking of money and breakups, check out this somewhat bonkers Buzzfeed post ‘People Are Sharing How Money Broke Up Their Relationship and It’s Equal Parts Shocking and Sad’.
You may enjoy a recent post on The Power of Forgiveness or this one on Writing a Letter to an Ex.

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