Home > Financial > What to Do About Your Debts

What to Do About Your Debts

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 18 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Separation Divorce Debt Citizens Advice

The biggest single contributor to debt in Britain is divorce. According to statistic, divorce and separation is a much bigger factor than bereavement, ill health, job loss or disability. Perhaps those most affected are the ones who, after a break up, become single parents.

However, there are ways of coping with debt, and also making sure, before the break up, that you don't become the victim of a partner who fails to pay bills.

Before The Break Up

If you know things are coming to an end - filing for divorce, for instance, or preparing to separate - you need to obtain a copy of your credit file. If you're married, many of your credit accounts will probably be held jointly, which means that you have a responsibility for paying them, even after divorce, no matter what's agreed.

You need to contact all your service providers and inform them in writing that if your spouse is having any work done, you are no longer legally responsible for the bills. That doesn't necessarily stop them coming to you for payment, but it's a level of protection, and a good solicitor can advice you further.

Before separating, you also need to sort out who's responsible for which debts, and have it in writing. Also, open your own accounts and make sure you actually qualify for credit (which can be a problem for those with low incomes). Essentially, at the legal date of a separation or divorce you're no longer responsible for the other party's debts, but the more arrangements you both have in place beforehand, the better. The more amicable the parting, the easier it becomes, too.

After The Break Up

Don't assume that, just because you're no longer together, everything is fine. If your ex defaults on payments from an old joint credit account, you could become responsible, and if you can't pay, you might have to take the drastic action of taking out an Individual Voluntary Agreement, and the lack of payments will be reflected in your own credit file.

Once you're on your own, the temptation can be to treat yourself to a holiday or a shopping spree, all on credit. In a word, don't. It might be great fun and wonderful therapy, but that amount still has to be paid back.

You'll find that you're suddenly having to manage on less money, so the more you can pare back your spending, the better. Getting a new home, whether rented or purchased, is expensive, and that needs to be your priority. It's sobering to learn that only 8% of those who'd separated or divorced had managed to control their finances, and 30% - nearly one-third - felt they needed debt counselling to help them.

Getting Help

If you feel you need advice with debt issues, there are agencies available to give help. The Citizens' Advice Bureau is a good place to begin, and if they can't help directly, they'll be able to point you in the right direction. Divorce Aid is a website offering all kinds of help to those now on their own, and the UK Insolvency Helpline is another good resource if the stress of owning money is affecting your life.

Debt can be a burdensome and stressful problem. The good news is that it's one that can be overcome.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Lisa Sherwood
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Brought a house with my now ex partner in 2004 lived together but due to horrendous domestic violence I had to flee the property…
    26 May 2020
  • twocreeks
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    My common Law wife and I currently going through some relationship difficulties. I need to know my options in our Joint Tenancy…
    26 May 2020
  • twocreeks
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    My common Law wife and I currently going through some relationship difficulties. I need to know my options in our Joint Tenancy…
    26 May 2020
  • mum of 2
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Hi,i have been separated now for 8 years and divorced for the last 5 years.I now want to sell the house and was wondering how…
    18 May 2020
  • Shuna
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    I am currently stagnated in my divorce. Started in 2017. Due to financial problems it has taken so long. I don't live in the…
    17 May 2020
  • Hesio
    Re: Buy Out The Mortgage From Your Ex
    My partner and I have recently split. We bought the council house she lived in for approximately 11 or more years. We…
    28 April 2020
  • Chloej
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Hi, my partner and I separated 14 years ago, I left the house, we both have our names on the mortgage he has lived there since…
    17 April 2020
  • Jay
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    My wife and I were only married for a couple of months before she cheated and decided she wanted to separate. We had lived…
    12 April 2020
  • Traceya
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    Hi my husband and I are going through a divorce, ( the petition has been sent to the courts) I want the home put up for sale so…
    30 March 2020
  • Bblively50
    Re: Selling the Jointly Owned Home
    So wife and I got divorce but still own home in both our names. She does not want to sale and I do, She just wants to…
    10 March 2020