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Joint Mortgage after Separation and Divorce

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Sorting out your joint mortgage after separation or divorce can be tricky. Sadly, around 50% of marriages now end in divorce and as well as the heartache of a relationship breakdown, if you own your home or have a mortgage on it, as well as the upset of possibly leaving the family home, you face the added stress of deciding how to split what is likely to be your biggest asset. These occurrences can become very complicated and each case will be different depending on a couple’s situation, but as they are becoming more common, the information regarding your potential options is more readily available.

You’re both responsible for a joint mortgage

If you have a mortgage on a property, when a couple separates it can often be difficult to keep up payments. One party may move out of the family home and stop paying, using the money to pay for rent on another property, leaving the person living in the home unable to pay the monthly costs by themselves. When you take out a mortgage together you are both responsible for the payments and liable for the debt for the entire duration, not just for when you are living in the property. If one of you refuses to pay the mortgage resulting in late or no payments, it will affect both of your credit history and can impact on your ability to get credit or a mortgage on another property. It’s also worth noting that threatening to keep up payments can sometimes have an adverse effect if your divorce has to go through court at a later stage.

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Contact your lender

You should contact your lender as soon as you have separated so they are aware. If you and your ex can continue to keep up payments on the mortgage you should, but if you are struggling, your lender may be able to offer some respite such as a payment break in the initial stages until a more permanent solution can be sought. These situations are not new to banks so they can be sympathetic to your circumstances and as long as they are aware of your financial situation, they can make allowances or offer help and advice. Failing to notify them and miss payments will do you or your ex no favours, so as much as you may want to bury your head in the sand, don’t!

How to move forward

Work out how you want your future to progress and discuss the options with your ex. The easiest way to resolve the situation is by selling the property, paying off any debt and splitting any profit. Any disputes over profit or assets within the property can be resolved by either you and your ex or via the courts. This way you can get a clean break and be free to move forward. However, this might not always be possible. If you have children or one of you wants to keep the house, you may be able to transfer the mortgage into one name and buy the other party out of their share of equity. This can bring up more complex challenges though.

Lenders have no obligation to remove names or add names to mortgages and you will firstly need to prove you can afford the mortgage payments on your own. If the property has built up any equity, you would also need to find the funds to pay your ex their share which may mean taking out additional loans or further lending against the property, for which you would need to prove you can afford and the lender would have to accept. You may also need to get the property valued in order to assess the worth and therefore equity within it. Again, if there is any dispute over the value of the home or the equity, this may have to be dealt with in court.

joint mortgage after separation or divorce

If you are tied into a fixed term mortgage or don’t have long left on it, providing you and your ex are on good terms, you could continue to both pay the mortgage until either the fixed term was up or until the mortgage was paid and you both agree how to split the equity. If you decide to do this, you should be aware that you wouldn’t be able to take out a mortgage on another property and you should consider if you can afford the repayments on the mortgage as well as any other property you may live in.

Register your rights

If you separate or divorce yet the home you live in doesn’t have your name on the deed or mortgage, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t entitled to the property or equity from it. You can register your matrimonial rights via the Land Registry which will stop your partner selling your home without your knowledge. Your home will be considered a joint asset and either party can’t force out the other. The rules are different if your partner owned the home before your marriage so if in doubt, seek legal advice for clarity.

Other options

If your home is in negative equity, talk to your lender and discuss the options available. It may be that you both continue to pay the mortgage or that you sell up and take a portion of the debt outstanding. This can get a little trickier so you may want to seek legal advice or advice from various charities who can specialise in these situations, especially when children are involved as parents should look to come to a decision that impacts as little as possible on the children.

Even when cases are resolved through the courts, it’s rarely an even split and costs can be considerable. Courts will take into consideration the needs of the children and the parents’ financial circumstances when coming to decisions over property. It might not be an easy process and emotions are bound to run high, but it’s a situation many couples find themselves in and will eventually move forward from.

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13 Responses to “Joint Mortgage after Separation and Divorce”

  1. paul

    My wife and I are separated. We have joint mortgages on properties 1 in England and 1 in Spain. I live in the house in England with my grandson and pay all the mortgage and bills of which I have no qualms in doing The Spanish property is in joint names and remains vacant for a long part of the year. I still allow my wife to go on holiday to the property if she wants. I have been paying all the mortgage and bills(insurance, water, electricity, council tax) on the property for 8 months but feel my wife! should be at least contributing something. The property is in negative equity. What can I do ? l

    Reply
    • Richie

      I recently separated from my long term partner, to whom i have a 2 year old daughter. We have a joint mortgage on our property, and I believe the only way forward is to sell the house so we can get on with our lives. I have rented a property so I can have access to my daughter so I now have the expense of that. My ex wants to stay in the “family” home, but realistically cannot afford it. i am covering the mortgage and still many of the bills for that property. I’ve taken a loan from my parents to cover costs in the interim until i have the house sold. I feel because i left I’m being taken a loan of by my ex.

      II am paying maintenance for my daughter too, which i don’t begrudge but I do begrudge the other expenses I’m covering.

      Any suggestions?

      Reply
        • richard

          Bit harsh….hes the one paying everyhing and keeping her afloat yet he has to man up and stop complaining…this is clearly a womens response. Put the boot on her foot and see the response she gets…would be very different then. Guys typically have to leave the family home…pay out for a whole new home as they leave wi nothin…pay a lot towards the previous one…pay maintenance…then get the kids all wknd so she can go out and party…..and get nothing in return but moanin….but yea….lets man up n take it…

          Reply
        • samantha

          Not Really Sandrine, why would he not think of his future?? clearly he is thinking about his child did you not read his statement of what he is doing to make sure his little girl is looked after which is a damn site more then most men. What make me laugh is woman get pregnant who probably haven’t achieved too much defiantly not enough to support a baby and when things go tits up with there partner then all of a sudden the man is expected to spend the rest of his life supporting his x’s life style.
          I hope you sold the house got your money so you can look after yourself as well as your daughter, £40.00 a week is what a guy is expected to pay by the government, I’m not saying that’s enough but what I am saying is I’ve worked since the age of 15 and the past 10 years I have worked my all hours that god sends so when I have a baby which will be this year at 30!! I will not need a man to support me if all goes wrong. I can look after myself and my baby. Men are not meant to be your safety net or bank account make sure your ready to support your family or expect to get the life you’ve created if you don’t get your happy ever after.

          Reply
  2. jessica williams

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  5. R d

    I had 8 years of a fixed rate mortgage when u divorce do u have to pay to get out of that fixed rate. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!

    Reply
  6. Gordon Purdue

    I owned a home jointly with my ex wife in 2014/2015. We split up in 2014 and she decided to move back to Vancouver. My daughter stayed on with me and I kept up the house payments until it sold 8 months later. My ex offered no money to help with the $2800 per month mortgauge. Can I go after her for not paying?

    Reply
  7. Kal

    I am looking to separate from my partner but we have a mortgage in joint names. I am happy to continue paying towards it but want to buy another property so that my son has a stable home. Am I able to get a 2nd mortgage and move it? I don’t want to make the decision of having a divorce just yet. A separation will give me time and space to think.

    Reply
  8. Lisa Candella

    How about a joint mortgage is held by my mother-in-law and during our separation my husband hasn’t bee paying it and his getting the house is part of the negotiation but during the marriage I paid it from my income and my husband doesn’t work

    Reply
  9. Sam

    My new partner is divorced but is still on his ex’s mortgage due to them having a daughter. However I want us to buy our own home. Is this possible?

    Reply

About Rebecca Robinson

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About Rebecca Robinson

After spending the last 8 years juggling life as a mum of two, wife and working full time as a Project Manager for a global telecommunications company, Rebecca Robinson made the decision to follow her love of writing and took the plunge; turning her passion into a full time career. Since becoming a full time writer, Rebecca has worked with various media and copy-writing companies and with the ability to make any topic relevant and interesting to the reader, now contributes to The Working Parent on articles ranging from credit cards to teenage relationships. Ever the optimist, Rebecca's dreams for the future include a house in the country filled with children, dogs and horses in the field!

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