Share your thoughts on our News & Insights section. Complete our survey to help us improve.

Personal finance

5 steps to help protect your finances during divorce

Divorce is hard and all the sudden changes can be overwhelming. Here are five steps to help protect your finances.
Woman plays with her ring nervously.jpg

Important information - This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure whether an investment is right for you please seek advice. If you choose to invest the value of your investment will rise and fall, so you could get back less than you put in.

The first three months of 2024 have seen a surge of Google searches for ‘divorce’. And while some of it will be people hunting for celebrity gossip, a good chunk will be those facing the prospect of a split, and not knowing where to start.

This article isn’t personal advice. If you’re not sure if a course of action is right for you, ask for financial advice.

Sign up for Monday Money Matters. Get the top stories from HL, including top tax-saving tips and the latest on pensions, savings, annuities and the housing market.

How to help protect your finances through divorce

If you’re staring into the jaws of a divorce, there’s so much to worry about that it can be difficult to know where to start. For some, the financial aspects of a split can feel too overwhelming to contemplate.

However, there are five things you can do right now to help protect your finances.


Draw up an emergency budget

Your first priority is damage limitation.

People can often run up debts after a split, because they’re dividing the same income between two households – while at the same time paying for what can be an expensive divorce process.

It makes sense to draw up an emergency budget to cut your expenses as much as possible during these first difficult months.

If you do run up debts or spend your emergency savings on the divorce, paying them off and building back your emergency savings are priorities afterwards.

We usually recommend three to six months’ worth of essential spending in an easy-to-access account if you’re working, and one to three years if you’re retired.


Consider your existing commitments

If you’re both named on the mortgage, you’re both liable for the full amount. So, to protect your financial position you should try to keep up payments in the short term.

If possible, try to agree this between you. The more you can agree between you, the less you’ll spend with and on lawyers.

This goes for the financial settlement, but also for arrangements for any children.

If there’s going to be an issue, talk to your providers, like your mortgage lender or energy company, sooner rather than later because they might be able to help.


Sort your joint accounts

If you’re being paid directly into a joint account, arrange for it to go elsewhere.

Make sure to move any bills being paid out of it too, and then if there are no debts or significant balances you can shut it down.

If things are more complicated, talk to your bank, who can place controls on things like debts or withdrawals while you unwind your finances.


Get help from the right people at the right time

A straightforward divorce might be something you can handle alone. But if you have pensions, a property, significant savings and investments or children, consider speaking to a lawyer or solicitor and a financial adviser.

If you need to talk to someone about the emotional upheaval, make sure you’re using the right specialist for that too. A counsellor could be cheaper and more effective than talking through your feelings with your lawyer.

Counselling services like Relate can help if you’re not sure where to start.

We're here if you need help

If you’re going through or have gone through a divorce, we can help you managing your account.


Don’t overlook your pension

If you or your spouse have been building up a pension for years, pension specialists are particularly valuable.

Before speaking to a specialist, you should get a pension valuation as part of the financial disclosure. It could also be worth paying an adviser to check your spouse’s numbers. They can also help you pick the most appropriate way to share the pension.

After the split, you also need to make sure you revisit your pension arrangements, and work out how you can undo some of the financial damage from the divorce.

None of these things will make divorce easy or stop it causing some serious damage to your finances. However, they might help limit some of the financial pain, so you can come out the other side ready to get back on track.

Thinking about getting financial advice?

If you’re looking for financial advice, we can help.

You don’t need to wait until your divorce is settled to speak to a financial adviser. In fact, it’s often useful for them to be involved in the conversation early on.

The first step is to book a call back from our advisory helpdesk. They won’t give you advice on the call, but they can talk you through how advice works, and the charges involved. That way you can get a better idea of whether it’s right for you. Then if you want to take advice, they can put you in touch with an adviser.

Latest from Personal finance
Personal Finance Newsletter
Sign up for Monday Money Matters. Get the top stories from HL, including top tax-saving tips and the latest on pensions, savings, annuities and the housing market.
Written by
Sarah Coles
Sarah Coles
Head of Personal Finance

Sarah provides insight and analysis to the media on topics such as savings and financial planning, and co-presents HL's ‘Switch Your Money On' podcast.

Our content review process
The aim of Hargreaves Lansdown's financial content review process is to ensure accuracy, clarity, and comprehensiveness of all published materials
Article history
Published: 3rd May 2024