What to do when it first dawns on you that your marriage might be over
1. Talk things through
Talking things through with a relationship counsellor may help couples decide if they can work through the issues they are experiencing or if their marriage has sadly come to an end.
If you have children, you may find it beneficial to attend co-parenting counselling or workshops to help navigate your separation and gain insights on co-parenting with your ex moving forwards.
The breakdown of a marriage is one of the most stressful experiences someone can ever go through. Opening up to someone – be it friends, family or a therapist – to help you process and work through your emotions is an important aspect to process your grief and help you navigate your next chapter.
2. Check your pension and insurance products
Even if you have decided your marriage is over, there will be a number of things that will automatically pass to your spouse should you die whilst you remain legally married. Most of these products will allow you to nominate an alternative beneficiary (i.e. children or a sibling) by simply filling out a form.
3. Check the title deeds to your property
Are you joint owners, tenants in common or is the property in one of your sole names? If you are married and your spouse is named as the sole owner, you should take advice on how to protect your right of occupation.
4. Think about separating your income and outgoings
Many people will use joint bank accounts for their day-to-day spending so it is important that you establish your own account once you have separated. Try to agree early on what you are going to do about the household expenses and any joint outgoings, even though this is likely to be just a temporary arrangement while you negotiate your wider finances. Do not be tempted to transfer money out of the joint account without discussing it with your spouse first, and your spouse should commit to doing likewise.
If you have any credit cards in joint names you should consider whether these should be cancelled to save later arguments about how and when debts have been incurred.
5. Amend your will
If you were to die without a will your spouse would inherit everything which may not be what you want. Ensure that you see a lawyer to either take advice on your will or, if you do not already have one, get one drafted. Once you divorce, you will need to enter into a further will, as divorce invalidates any existing arrangements in place once it becomes finalised.
6. Take advice
It is vital that you understand your legal rights and where you stand both in relation to your children and your finances so that you can make informed decisions as to your next move. This does not mean that you have to, or should, immediately issue divorce proceedings. Seeing a lawyer may help to put things into perspective for you and help you decide on what to do next.
By Hannah Gumbrill-Ward, Solicitor at Winckworth Sherwood