7 Tips for Splitting Finances When a Relationship Ends

by TTMK on July 2, 2012 · 8 comments

The following is a guest post.

Kylie Ofiu is a blogger, author of 365 Ways To Make Money, writer and public speaker. She shares real ways to make and save money on her blog and has a passion for finances.

Financial issues have be the cause of many a relationship ending. When a relationship ends it can easily get messy and hard to sort out finances. Having done it before, here is what I did to make it easier and fair for everyone involved.

1.) Play fair and aim to do what is in the best interests for everyone, especially if you have children.
It can be hard to play fair, but the best outcome is if both people can discuss things with the intention of working out what is best for both of you, not an “What can I get out of this/I am going to take them for everything” type of attitude.

It can be extremely difficult if the relationship has had many issues and one partner hurt the other severely, but if you can both be fair it makes it a lot easier.

2.) Make time to talk
Do not just bring up the topic of splitting finances at any time. The best thing you can do is set a specific time to talk about it together, calmly. It might be on a Sunday night when you are both relaxed, but make sure you schedule it in. Until you have a chance to discuss things you can ask the bank to place a lock on your accounts so that no money can go in or out, to ensure neither partner tries to take it all.

Once you have set a time to talk (and try to do it sooner rather than later), do not bring it up again. It causes more tension and frustration. By setting a time to talk you each have a chance to calm down, think things over and also have the time to see where you both sit financially.

3.) List what you would like to talk about
Create a list of things you would need to discuss such as the house, car, any debt, joint accounts and how it will all be divided. Will you sell the house and cars, or each keep their own car, one person pay out the other for the house etc. List what you want to discuss and what your ideal outcome or what you think the fairest outcome is.

4.) Talk calmly
Don’t argue about it. If things get heated when you are discussing your options, take a deep breath and maybe step away for a few minutes, do something else then come back to it. You need to be calm throughout this process, as hard as that is. Getting angry, yelling and arguing about it will not make things any better nor will you be able to come to a fair arrangement.

5.) Use a impartial third party as witness
If you feel the need, it can sometimes be beneficial to have someone else there to be a witness, take notes and not take sides. It might be best to get a professional rather than a friend or family member. If you can do it without a third party, it’s better.

6.) Get everything assessed
All your financials will need to be assessed. That is, how much is your house, car, superannuation etc. all valued at? Who is entitled to what? Knowing what the value is of everything makes it easier to divide.

7.) Take emotion out of it. View it as a business transaction
This is probably the hardest part. If you have been wronged in the relationship, it can be quite emotional and you probably feel entitled to more of the money and quite angry towards your now ex partner. Try to step back and view it as a business transaction. It is not an emotional exchange, rather a financial one. What would be the best outcome for everyone, not what do you deserve because they wronged you.

My husband and I were able to separate amicably before. It was not easy, as it is an emotional time, but more people are doing it to save on lawyer fees and because ultimately you were in a relationship with this person, you loved them at some point, it doesn’t have to get messy.

That said, if things are really bad and you do not trust each other, use lawyers or get help. While many people are able to split their finances themselves when the relationship breaks down, it doesn’t mean you have to and not everyone can. Decide what is best for your situation, but if you do decide to do it yourself and do it amicably, these tips can help.

Editor’s Comments: Thank you to Kylie for the guest post.  What do you think of these tips? Have you used any of them, and/or do you have any other thoughts to add?

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

SB @ One Cent At A Time July 2, 2012 at 6:39 am

I think this topic is easier said than done. I may have to face the situation and I am tensed. I sometimes feel the rule is little unfair

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Kathleen @ Frugal Portland July 2, 2012 at 9:28 am

I saw my friend go through this, and she gave up WAY more than she should have, simply because it was “her idea” to end the relationship. Women too often do this, to the tune of thousands of dollars, in an attempt to make peace.

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Kylie Ofiu July 2, 2012 at 6:02 pm

@SB it can be quite hard and an intense time. If you do some research and know your rights beforehand it makes it easier, not emotionally, but knowledge helps.

@Kathleen it is true, many people – not just women, I have seen men do it – give up more than they should in an attempt to make peace. It can cost them thousands, I have seen times where it has been worth it to just walk away though. Some things are worth more than money. That said, I am all about being fair and not giving everything to the other party, but doing what is best for everyone.

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TTMK July 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm

Excellent tips, Kylie.

I concur about knowing rights. It only makes sense for people to be informed, and spend time learning what the rules are. Sometimes people make assumptions that aren’t necessarily true, particularly in that arena.

As for people giving up more than they should, I think that applies to both genders and I’ve heard of it going both ways. While no two situations are the same, and no two people are the same, laws can be quite consistent.

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Edward Antrobus July 3, 2012 at 8:57 am

I’ve never been in a relationship that ended after joint finances were set up. I have a feeling that if I were, I would just take my stuff and just walk. Any money in a joint account I would just leave behind. If my relationship ended, neither one of us would really be in a good place to talk things out rationally.

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TTMK July 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

Edward – leaving things behind in that case, well, that’s like walking away from something that’s yours! I can see your point though, that in a case like that it could be tough on someone in general

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tj@obama student loan July 6, 2012 at 10:57 pm

For additional tip If you can’t afford a legal person, go to your local Citizens Advice Bureau as they will either be able to offer good legal direction, or have a list of lawyers to contact.

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briseide August 10, 2015 at 2:56 am

Hello everyone,

I also have a dilemma right now. I was supposed to get married but my ex decided to leave me because I didn t agree with him keep on giving money to his parents while we had to start build our own family and future. We were renting without having any savings while his parents have their own house and live a nice life. His mom is not working but she has a maid and a gardner( just to complete the picture). They also go often on holidays and they decided to build a second house for his mother’s sister. They have more than 4 cars and recently bought a truck. They have an elder son that has his own house and a good job but they ask for money only from my ex. Every time they are asking him for money he would jump off the cliff and give them all he has. And when I say all it s actually All that he goes on overdraft until he s salary is paid. They don’t have a difficult financial situation, on the contrary they live very well.
Anyway we have decided to buy a car where we both contributed but he contributed with money i have deposited in his acc. Now he is asking for his money back to help his parents out but my dilemma is this one: I have invested all my savings into the car, the flat we rented where I have lost the deposit after he left because I couldn’t afford to keep it by myself and into the ordinary expenses for the sake of our relationship because we were supposed to get married after all and even if he is earning more than I do, I considered it s fair we both contribute with what we have to our future. I have deposited money in his account(long story, it was necessary this way), I have bought the wedding rings and he kept his one when he left, etc. After the break up because he choosed to leave me 2 weeks prior the wedding in order to still support his parents, he s asking me for the money from the car back. I consider as those half of the money from the car are still mine because of the expenses I ve made trusting we are going to start our own family.
I Don t want to give him these money back so that he will give them to his parents because those were my hard saving money.
I also Don t want to play unfair but I repeat he left me with absolutely nothing and he s still asking for money back.
What do you people think would be politically correct ? I told him those are my money after all even if they were in his account but he s saying he owes me nothing but I owe him those money. Isn t this unfair and outrageous?

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