The following is a guest post.
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?