You might have thought that you had successfully ended your relationship with someone who was terrible with money - and that the day you booted them out would be the last one where you had to deal with their overspending, irresponsibility or inability to understand that borrowing isn't the answer to everything. However, for two out of three people who have split up in the past year, things aren't as easy as all that.
A study by the Debt Advisory Centre (a commercial company selling debt arrangement schemes) found that of the three million people who split up with a partner in the past year, 36% still have a joint mortgage with their ex, and 30% still have a joint tenancy agreement. One in five had a credit card or loan in both names, one in five had a joint bank account, and 12% had joint assets.
In some cases, their financial complications mean they quite literally are unable to move on. Some 4% are forced to continue living in the same houses as their ex while they try to extricate themselves from each other's finances.
Joint mortgages and tenancies are a nightmare, especially where one or other of you is unreliable about making payments, or the split has been unpleasant. You are both liable for the whole of the rent or mortgage payments, regardless of which one of you stays in the property. If you have moved out, you may need to spend all your cash on a new place, but if your other half can't afford to pay the mortgage or rent, you're both in financial trouble.
Loans and overdrafts can also see both parties being jointly liable for the whole debt – which can also cause real hardship if one partner tries to walk away from the commitment. By contrast, with credit cards it is the first named card holder who is liable for all the debt. This can also be a nightmare if you are the named cardholder, and your ex starts running up debts.
This is more common than you might expect. A study last year by uSwitch found that over 2 million people had been saddled with debt run up by an ex. This included an average £457 on a credit card, £313 in joint accounts, £463 in mortgage debt and £327 in online shopping accounts.
Get some help
Debt expert, Melanie Taylor of the Debt Advisory Centre said: "Relationship breakdown is a major cause of problem debt. Unpicking a relationship is fraught with difficulties and communication is often strained or non-existent. But couples do need to agree on who is going to contribute towards clearing debts and bills that were taken in joint names – whether that's an overdraft or the mortgage or rent."
"If you find yourself saddled with debts that your ex isn't willing to contribute towards, it is important to speak to your lenders, or seek debt advice as soon as possible."
The best place to start is a debt charity like StepChange or Citizens Advice, who will help you through the process of splitting your finances, as well as running through your best options when it comes to tackling your debts.
Even if you manage to split amicably, and without any major financial trauma, your overspending ex can still cause trouble for you. If you have had any joint accounts or other financial products, your credit histories will be linked.
It's a good idea to close any accounts you can, to protect yourself from their spending, and from their bad financial habits harming your credit history.
Once you have extricated yourself, you also need to get in touch with ratings agencies like Experian and Equifax, and check that they have noted on your file that you no longer have a financial connection to your ex.
It's not an easy process, and splitting up is never cheap, but the sooner you can get on top of the money issues in a split, the quicker you can move on.