The practical side of separation

I'm not saying this is the route we are going down but I'd just like to know where we'd stand.

What happens with the day to day running of the house & childcare?

What happens about the bills for the house if one of us moves out? All the household bills and debt are in my name, mortgage in joint names.





  • Have you been on Mumsnet? Their Relationship forum has an abundance of advice about separation.

    Be careful about the debt - if it's in your name only then only you are liable for it. If it was in joint names you'd be jointly and severally liable (i.e. both responsible for repaying it though that doesn't mean they'd chase both of you for repayment if the other is paying it off).

  • Relationship Breakdown and Divorce – Advice and Links

    It is useful if you can get to grips with the language of family law and procedure, and get an understanding of your rights, BEFORE you see a solicitor. If you are well prepared you will save time and money.


    If there are children involved, their welfare, needs and interests are paramount. Parents have responsibilities, not rights, in this regard. Shared residence means both parties having an equal interest in the upbringing of the children. It does not mean equal (50/50) parenting time - children are not possessions to be “fairly” divided between separating parents.

    A divorce will not be granted where children are involved unless there are agreed arrangements for finance, and care of the children (“Statement of Arrangements for Children”). It is obviously quicker and cheaper if this can be agreed but if there is no agreement, the Court will make an Order - “Residence and Contact” regarding children, “Financial Order” or “Ancillary Relief” in the case of Finance. Information and links to these can be found in the Directgov link below. Residence and Contact Orders are likely to be renamed Child Arrangements Orders in future.

    Always see a specialist family lawyer!

    Get word of mouth recommendations for family lawyers in your area if possible. If you have children at school, ask mums you are friendly with if they know of anyone who can make a recommendation in your area. These days there are few people who don’t know of anyone who has been through a divorce or separation – there’s a lot of knowledge and support out there!

    Many family lawyers will offer the first half hour consultation free. Make use of this. Don’t just stick with the first lawyer you find – shop around and find someone you feel comfortable with. You may be in for a long haul, so it helps if you can find a solicitor you’re happy with.

    If you can’t find any local recommendations, always see a solicitor who specialises in Family Law.

    You can also find out about Legal Aid and get advice on the Community Legal Advice Helpline on 08345 345 4 345

    Co-operative Legal Services offer DIY/Self-Help Divorce packages, as well as a Managed Divorce service. Their fee structure is more transparent and they have a telephone advice line as well as offering really good advice on their website:

    You can read advice and search by area for a family lawyer here:

    You will also read good advice and find a family lawyer here:

    Some family law solicitors publish online feedback from clients – Google solicitors to see if you can find any recommendations or feedback.


    You will be encouraged to attend mediation. This can help by encouraging discussion about arrangements for children and finance in a structured way in a neutral setting. However, it only works if both parties are willing to reach agreement.

    If there has been violence or emotional abuse, discuss this with your solicitor first. Always get legal advice, or at the very least make sure you are aware of your legal rights, before you begin mediation. This is important because while a Mediator should have knowledge of family law, and will often explain family law, they are not there to give tailored legal advice to either party - so it’s important to have that first.

    Married or Living Together?

    This is a key question, because if you are married, generally speaking you have greater protection when a relationship breaks down.

    Legal Issues around marriage/cohabitation and relationship breakdown are ex

  • Thanks Sshh. When I say debts I mean credit cards are me as number 2 cardholder but he is secondary.

    I'm not worried about CSA or anything as I'd not want maintenance as we'd both have 50/50 care of Lou no questions asked.

  • No idea belle. Re childcare would you keep things as they are now (iirc your h has him one or 2 days then he's at nursery) so maybe extend the nursery days on your days iyswim, then he will be at school soon too so try to look into after school care)

    Re the cc do you mean you are the main name on the cc and your h has a card too? We have this but its my h who is main name, I think its a joint debt, although not 100% sure

  • Yes H has him mon/tues and then he's in nursery wed-fri. However if we split H would need to work at least one of those days I think or even both. We'd try and do a 50/50 split over alternate weekends although not sure how it would actually work (just been looking at calendar) Once he's in school it would be easier.

    I'm so confused I'm even thinking of this stuff.

  • I don't think there's any harm in thinking about it, it would be good to know what you might need to put in place if it came to separation.

  • I don't really have much to add, however Legal Aid for family matters has stopped. I think the CAB should beable to help aswell.

  • We wouldn't qualify for Legal Aid anyway MM. Family law stuff I know inside out but it's practical stuff re the house and bills I'm unsure of.

    My sister has invited us away for the weekend with her and her fella. CW has offered to have Louie - H is saying it depends how we are. WOuld you think a weekend away wold be a good idea?

  • Ok I am going to throw in my two penneth worth......

    Forget all about the practical side of seperation, give yourself some headspace to worry about the here and now.  concentrate on building the life you want to have.  There is nothiing (and I am speaking from someone who has been through custody and divorce court battles) that cannot be sorted and that you cannot cope with and manage.  if it comes to it, we will sort it out and find a way. Right now, concentrate on healing yourself and your relationship, even if that means you do go your seperate ways but more amicably and with an understanding of each other and the lengths you went to try and make it work.  Stop searching for the answers, you will not find them until you are sure in your mind what way you want to go.

    Butting out now

    PS - love you lots x

  • Sorry I'm not like that CW and I thought you knew how I work. I need to get this stuff  sorted in my head

  • but you have a lot of stuff to get sorted in your head, very little reserve of emotional energy and not enough time to waste on things you may not even need to think about.  you need to make sure your time is spent on the important stuff at the moment.  All the practical stuff - if you would like me to, I will take it all on for you and investigate and put you together all the information you need - how does that sound? then you would know and have it straight.  I know you like to have a plan and I will help you where I can, use your energry to concentrate on yourself - be kinder to yourself x

  • That doesn't help me get my head around it though hon I need to know the ins ad outs of stuff It's how I work it's who I am.

  • Sorry that you are going through this Belle. I agree with curly wurly but I also have to have a plan. I always need to get things straight and organised in my head or on paper to be able to move forward in the present.

    How do you feel about a weekend away? Maybe child free time together will help you xx

  • I kind of understand where CW is going with this, but I know you are a bit like me and need to know things in your head for whatever eventuality.

    There do seem to be so many what ifs, and just in case, and loads of variables, so try not to think too much into the ins and outs just yet.

    I would think going away for a weekend would do you both good - to talk openly on neutral ground, but I wouldnt be going with my sister if I am honest.

    I;m guessing you both earn roughly the same?

  • No I earn far more 1stBaby

  • How loved up is your sister and her OH? If they are all jolly and in love at the moment then a weekend away with them might not be the best move as it might just make you compare relationships forgetting that you are a lot further down the relationship track (if that makes sense!).

    I think you've said you've confided in your sister and that would make me wary too as there's nothing like families for thinking they can say things when perhaps they shouldn't. I would think that its too raw for both of you to have someone doing that and it might cause tensions, etc.

    No relationship is going to maintain all the hearts and flowers and excitement stage of the early days long term, its about building something on top of that together that is worth more. It sounds to me that you've both lost sight of who you are in that relationship.

  • Ok I will answer some of your questions:

    House - you have a joint mortgage therefore you are entitled to 50% of the house after all debts are paid off.   you are entitled to stay in the house until Louie is 16 or in further education until 18 at which point the house would have to be sold.  if you share custody then OH would also have the same entitlement if it was his main home.  If you were to stop paying the mortgage and move out you would not be entitled to 50% but actually 50% minus the mortgage repayments you have missed (50% of those).    OH would also have to be able to financially get the mortgage on his own to cover the cost or there would be a forced sale (i.e. if OH salary on his own could not buy you out of  your mortgage then it would be sold on) same would go for you if you wanted to buy him out it would be 50% of any profit on the house - debts in joint names.  you would have to get a mortgage for the whole amount outstanding.  OH may have more claim to your home as it is his registered place of work i.e. if he can afford it he may have more right to stay there.

    Debts - any debts in your name are your responsibility unless you can prove that he has been financially supporting you i.e. if you were a stay at home mum since Louie was born and had not earnt your own money.  as this is not the case, the debts are yours even if OH has a card on your account.

    Loans - see above, if they are secured on the house, they need to be paid off from any sale of the house but paying them is the responsibility of the person names on the loan agreedment

    Custody - 50/50 shared custody is a good idea, I think Wednesday to Wednesday is a practical idea but I am not sure how this would work and enable you both to work.

    So in a nutshell, if you were to walk away with your posessions from the property you would still be liable for 50% of the mortgage, any debts in your name and any loans.  Bill payments could cease from this date - you would have to contact all providers, pay up to that date and then have transfered to OH name.  If OH earns less money that you, he could claim you are financially supporting him and therefore you should contribute a maintenance cost towards the house.  you are liable for any house costs on yoru property i.e. damage, boilers etc but not servies provided to the property.

    If you were to divorce, you could apply on terms of unreasonable behaviour of one party  or you could seperate for 2 years and then divorce.

    Issues I can see for you - at the moment OH is the primary carer for Louie, this could see him treated more favourably in terms of finances and custody.  Earnings, if you are the higher breadwinner, again this could see you paying maintenance of a higher amount or the court awarding more ££ to OH,   you could argue this in terms of what percentage you put in during the past but this would take more £ and patience.  

    If things are sorted amicably then you will sort these things out but these are some of the instances which could cause you stumbling blocks for now

    you know where I am


  • Thanks that is exactly what I needed to know. Basically I'm screwed.

  • Which is why you are doing the right things going through relate, if OH agrees (and I honestly think in my heart he will not get vendictive over things and I do know you both pretty well) then there will not be an issue.  BUT no matter what I think the house may become an issue as he needs to work but I don't think he can cover the mortgage, therefore it may need to be sold.

    So there you have it.

    Now - can you please put this to the back of your mind, it cannot influence your decision on what you need to do for your future, people start again lovely and for all the right reasons, if need be you can go bankrupt but rather go bankrupt and happy than spend the next 20 years regretting your life.  support wise you have us - emotionally, financially and practically, there is nothing we cannot sort out and yes it may seem heartbreaking at the moment but you have your whole life ahead of you as does your son, if you and OH do not come through this together it does not mean you cannot parent together or resolve everything above together,  you are taking every possible step to stop this from happening.

  • Belle,

    You are not screwed! Neighbours of ours  went through this two years ago and they managed. It was a stressful situation at times but they sorted it and have both moved on now xx

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