Relationship breakdowns can be extremely difficult both mentally and emotionally. Not only are you dealing with the loss of your partnership, but the impact on other areas of your life such as your finances.  

As you navigate your split, you may be wondering how to divide your assets as an unmarried couple. Take a look at our advice below to see what steps you can take towards a fair and amicable split. 

Understand your rights

Firstly, you need to understand what your rights are as an unmarried couple. 

In the UK, there's no formal protection or legal process for dividing assets when you're not married, which means that open communication and willingness to resolve disputes are extremely important. 

If you live together, one of the most vital things to find out is your rights to the family home. 

What will happen to the property will depend on a few factors, including who the legal owner is. If you bought the property together as “joint tenants” and are both named on the title deeds, then you both have equal rights to the property. 

That means that you'll need to come to a mutual decision on what happens to the home, whether that's selling, buying out the other person's share or otherwise. If you bought the property as “tenants in common” then you'll be entitled to the percentage share that you own.

If you're unsure, you can check your ownership details on the government website.

However, if you moved into a home that's owned by your partner and aren't named on any legal paperwork, it's more than likely that they will keep the home. 

You may be able to prove rights to the property if you can show that you have a “beneficial interest” – which usually means you've contributed financially. 

Compile a list of shared assets

After you've done some research on your rights, you should sit down and create a list of all the assets that you share. 

This could include properties you jointly own, financial obligations like credit cards, savings and investments, as well as personal belongings you bought together.

Creating an inventory will help you to categorise your assets, giving you specific areas to tackle as you navigate the split. It also makes sure that nothing is forgotten before you part ways. 

You'll then need to have an open and honest discussion about how you want to divide the assets you own together. 

Create a formal written agreement

Once you've built a list of assets and discussed division, it's worth creating a formal written agreement that states how you plan to split them. If you both agree and want to make it legally binding, the government says that “you need to draft a consent order and ask a court to approve it”.

“A consent order is a legal document that confirms your agreement. It explains how you're going to divide up assets like pensions, property, savings and investments”. 

If you don't agree, you can enlist the help of a mediator to help resolve the dispute. It may also be beneficial to seek support from a specialist family solicitor who can provide advice on the best path for you. 

With their knowledge and expertise, they'll be able to give you important information about cohabitation law, make arrangements for any children you have and organise settlements so that you can move forward with strength. 

Relationship breakdowns are incredibly difficult, so please don't suffer in silence. Reach out to friends, family members, or helplines such as CALM for the support you need at this tricky time.