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What to Remember when you are Separating

Posted: 24-03-2021

The early days of a separation can be a whir of emotions and it can be easy to forget things. I thought that I would therefore give you a quick checklist of things you should remember when you are separating.


  1. Legal documents – make sure you know where all legal documents like birth certificates, passports, marriage certificates, car registration documents etc. are. Agree who will hold onto which documents. It is often better for the person who has the day-to-day care of the children to keep hold of the children’s legal documents.


  1. Financial documents – make sure that you know where all of the joint finance documents are kept, and that you have all of your own financial documents like bank statements.


  1. Personal belongings – if you are the one moving out of the family home, make sure that you take everything you will need.


  1. Telling the children – you should always be open and honest with children. Never try to hide the fact that you have separated, as this may cause issues emotional issues for the children. It is recommended that both of you sit down with the children together to explain what is happening. You should both agree beforehand what should be told to the children. This ensures that the children are given the same message by both parents and have an opportunity to ask both of you questions.


  1. Child arrangements – before you separate, agree the arrangements for the other person to see the children. As tempting as it may be, it is often not a good idea for contact to take place in the family home as this can lead to confusion for the children.


  1. Child maintenance – the person who does not have the day-to-day care of the children will be liable to pay child maintenance. This can easily be calculated using the online Child Maintenance Service calculator.


  1. Changing the locks – the family home will usually be jointly owned by both parties. Therefore, the locks should not normally be changed. However, the person leaving the family home should not simply let themselves into the home after they have left. The person remaining the house is entitled to quiet enjoyment of the home. Therefore, the person who has left should only enter the house with the other person’s consent.


  1. You cannot force someone out of the house – if one person refuses to leave the house, then they cannot be forced to do so. Someone can only be forced to leave by using the domestic abuse legislation and applying for an occupation order. Please see my earlier blog on Domestic Abuse.


  1. Post – it is a criminal offence to tamper with mail. Therefore, never open post addressed to your ex-partner.


  1. Where to go – it may be possible to stay with friends or family temporarily. However, there will be a time when you both need to agree a more long-term solution and properties may need to be rented and / or sold. When this happens, we can help by drafting a Separation Agreement, or starting Divorce proceedings, or drafting a Consent Order.


Sousa Law are expert Divorce Solicitors in Southampton. If you require help and advice concerning divorce and financial settlements and would like to discuss how we can help you, please contact us on 02380 713 060 or to book a Free Initial Consultation.


By Nicole Biggs