Both the start and the end of a relationship can impact your life in many ways, and one of those ways is your finances. When we say relationship we mean co-habitation, civil partnership and marriage.

What is Co-habitation?

When a relationship becomes more serious, the natural next step is often seen as living together. There will then be a discussion around where to live and how to share the cost of living. Some couples even decide to buy property together.

What is Civil partnership?

A civil partnership is a legally recognised union between two people in England and Wales. It was introduced in the UK in 2005 as a way for same-sex couples to obtain many of the same legal rights and responsibilities as married couples. In 2019, civil partnerships were extended to opposite-sex couples as well, providing them with the opportunity to enter into a legally recognised relationship without getting married.

What is Marriage?

Under English law, a legal marriage is a formal union between two individuals that is recognised by law.

Are your finances secure if your relationship ends?

Ending a relationship can be a difficult and emotional process, and it can also have significant financial consequences. In England, the law surrounding the financial implications of a breakup can be complex, but it is essential to understand your rights and responsibilities to ensure that you are not left in a financially vulnerable position.

The financial implications of a breakup can vary depending on the nature of the relationship, the length of the relationship, and whether the couple was married or in a civil partnership. If you are married or in a civil partnership, the law in England and Wales considers you to be in a legal union, and your finances are likely to be closely entwined. If you are not married or in a civil partnership, your finances may be more separate, but there may still be implications to consider.

One of the most important financial implications of a breakup is the division of assets. If you are married or in a civil partnership and are separating or divorcing, you will need to agree on how to divide your assets. This can include everything from property and investments to savings and pensions. The law in England and Wales requires that assets are divided fairly, but this does not necessarily mean equally. The court will take into account a range of factors, including the length of the relationship, the contributions each partner has made, and the future needs of each party.

If you are not married or in a civil partnership, your assets may be more separate, but there may still be financial implications to consider. For example, if you have been living together and sharing expenses, you may need to work out how to divide these costs. You may also need to consider the division of any joint assets, such as property or investments.

How can a relationship affect your inheritance?

If you have made a Will and you later divorce or your civil partnership is dissolved the Will remains valid but the provisions in the Will take effect as if your former spouse or civil partner had died.

If you had not made a Will the Intestacy Rules apply to your estate.  Your spouse or civil partner receives your personal possessions and the statutory legacy (£270,000) plus half of your residuary estate.  The other half of the residuary estate goes to your the children, if any.  Unmarried partners cannot inherit under the rules of intestacy but they can seek financial provision by making an application under the Inheritance (Provisions for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. However this is costly and there is no guarantee that a financial award would be made by the Court.

Spouses and Civil Partners benefit from an Inheritance Tax exemption but unmarried partners do not, so there is a clear tax disadvantage.

If you made a Will and get married or form a civil partnership your existing Will is automatically revoked.  You will need to make a new Will to ensure that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes, if not, the intestacy rules would apply.

If you need to discuss your financial affairs either at the outset or at the end of a relationship please get in touch. Our family solicitors can be contacted via email on or give us a call on 0208 735 9770. Ana is an expert in Wills and can help you make your first Will or update an existing Will. Get in touch via email at or call 0208 735 9795 to arrange a telephone call.


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