Relationship Breakdowns

Relationship Breakdowns and Separation Advice

Married and unmarried couples alike can face the breakdown of their relationship. It’s a terribly difficult, upsetting, stressful and uncertain time, especially if you live together and own possessions and/or assets jointly.

On the breakdown of a relationship there are several things you are going to need to think about, namely your  living arrangements, finances and if you have children, organising the arrangements for their care.

How matters will be resolved will often be dependent upon your marital status and whether or not you were married at the time or not.


Making sure your finances are in order when going through a separation is important.

You need to establish what your assets and liabilities are, what you hold jointly and how the finances between you are going to be resolved.

You also need to ensure that once you have divorced or separated that the way forward is going to be financially viable.

Living Arrangements when separating

Living Arrangements

You and your ex partner will have to decide whether:

  • one of you stays in your home while the other moves out
  • you both move out and either end your tenancy, or sell your home
  • one of you buys the other out if so that raises the question of what sum should be paid and what will happen the mortgage liability
  • you both stay in the home and live separate lives

What you decide to do regarding living arrangements will depend on several factors, what you can afford, what you’re most comfortable with and whether or not you’ve got children. It might also depend on whether you have rights to stay in the home after you separate. Examples of this include whether you’re married or your name is on the deeds.

Married Couples

When your marriage has broken down, it’s likely you will seek a divorce. There is a myth that there are several reasons to file for a divorce. But in reality it is the fact that  one or both of the parties to a marriage consider that marriage has “irretrievable breakdown down”. For more advice on seeking a divorce, see our divorce pages here.

Seeking a divorce

Unmarried Couples

If you are cohabiting then you will have to go about things differently to if you are married.
Many unmarried couples live together believe the myth of “common law marriage”. However, this idea of a “common law wife” and “common law husband” is a myth and is not recognised by the family court. This means that couples who are not married when a relationship breaks down have limited  claims against each other..

One of the biggest causes of disputes for unmarried couples is over the ownership of the family home. Arguments can arise even if the property is just in one party’s name. This is because the other party may feel that they have contributed to the property and therefore have an interest in the property’s equity or believed their contributions created an interest in the property which is now disputed.

For more information on separation of unmarried couples or divorce, please see our pages here.