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Should I open a joint bank account with my partner?

Finance

When two individuals make the decision to build a life together, they are faced with numerous significant decisions. One question that often arises is whether they should share a bank account. Deciding to share a bank account is a personal choice and can differ for each couple. It can be helpful if you both have a lot of expenses together, such as bills and groceries. However, it is a good idea to discuss how you will use the account and how much each person will contribute.

From the standpoint of family law, if a couple who lives together decides to separate, they usually divide their assets based on legal ownership. Consequently, any money in a joint account is usually split equally, and shared debts are divided equally as well. From the bank’s perspective, if one person spends too much money and causes the account to go into debt, they usually see it as the responsibility of both account holders.

To avoid confusion and disputes, you can create a specific legal document called a cohabitation agreement. This document outlines how you will divide your assets if you break up, including the money in your joint account, and how you will manage shared expenses while together. These agreements are not always legally binding, but they are gaining popularity and can be quite helpful.

Many married couples have a shared bank account, but it is not obligatory, and some prefer to maintain their separate accounts. However, when you are married or in a civil partnership, the legal rules are different from couples who live together. Being married or in a civil partnership grants you the legal ability to make various financial claims against your partner, and they can do the same to you.

The court does not always consider money in a shared account as jointly owned, and they do not classify money in one person’s account as exclusively belonging to them. However, in some cases, such as if one person receives an inheritance, the court might consider it separately and exclude it from the overall settlement. If your marriage or partnership ends and you cannot agree on how to divide your assets, the court can make the decision. They follow the rules in the Matrimonial Causes Act, Section 25, which considers factors such as your assets, income, the duration of your relationship, and your contributions.

Financial decision-making within relationships is a complex matter influenced by various legal and personal factors. It is often wise to consider your specific circumstances and obtain legal advice to make informed choices that best suit your situation.

If you or someone you know wants to discuss finances whether you are living together, considering it, engaged, or married, it is advisable to consult with one of our specialists at Haris Law. Feel free to email us at info@harislaw.co.uk or call on 01254 461461 to book a free consultation. 

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