8th March 2018

• If you are contemplating a marital separation and own more than one property, you should carefully think about timing.  Property transfers completed between spouses within the tax year of their separation are exempt from CGT, so waiting until after 5th April to separate could end up saving you a tax bill of thousands by giving you a longer window of opportunity to sort things out.

• On separation, if you move out of a property, make sure that your name is taken off all the utility accounts, so you cannot be held liable for future bills.

• Consider how you and your spouse own your property.  If you want immediate reassurance that your share will pass to your children rather than to your estranged if you were to die, you will probably need to look at changing its ownership from a ‘beneficial joint tenancy’ to a ‘tenancy in common’.  This is simple enough to do, but very important.  You will also need to make a new Will.

• If the marital home is owned in the sole name of your spouse, you will need to register a notice of your matrimonial home rights at the Land Registry as a protective alert mechanism.

• Consider joint accounts.  Do you need to freeze these to protect and preserve monies until you agree settlement terms?  Or do you need immediate access to funds to meet your financial needs pending a longer-term solution?

• If you have a pension and previously nominated your spouse to receive, for example, death-in-service benefits, you will need to replace this with a new nomination, for example, your children, to make sure that these benefits are allocated to your intended beneficiaries. 

These are just some of our top tips on separation, but there is so much more to think about.  It’s all about making informed choices so, if your marriage is struggling and separation or divorce is a possibility, come and have a chat first with one of our experienced family law solicitors.  The appointment is free and there is no obligation.  Remember – knowledge is power!

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