Joint mortgage separation rights: What happens after a break-up?

30th August 2019

couple with their arms folded

In an ideal world, you wouldn’t have to think about what’s going to happen to your mortgage if you and your partner break up. It seems inconceivable.

Sadly though, things don’t always work out and you could be left holding the pieces of your relationship, including your joint mortgage.

Shared finances can become a huge worry, so it’s really important to know what to do.

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about what happens to your joint mortgage after a separation.

We’re getting divorced. What happens to our joint mortgage?

Your joint mortgage will remain in place until some kind of action is taken.

This could be selling the home, buying out your ex-partner, transferring value or paying off the mortgage. We explain how to do the first three below.

Does my ex have to pay half of the mortgage?

When you take out a joint mortgage, in most cases you and your ex become ‘joint and severally liable’ for the repayment of your loan.

Both of you remain liable for the mortgage payments until the agreement is formally ended in some way.

It’s irrelevant how you paid the mortgage before, for example if one of you paid more than 50%. Your lender simply wants the repayments made.

Can my ex sell the house?

If either of you wants to sell the home, you need to get written approval from your ex before it can be put on the market.

How can I buy my ex out of the house?

To buy your ex out, you can ‘end’ the joint mortgage and have it solely in your name. This will also enable you to break your financial link to your ex.

To do this, you’ll need to prove to your lender that you’re financially able to make the monthly repayments based on your earnings and savings.

Your ex also has to give their permission to be removed from the mortgage agreement.

Can you separate a joint mortgage?

Yes. You can transfer a part of the home’s value to your ex.

You’d own a certain amount of the property, and your ex would retain a stake in it. This means they’d receive a proportional percentage of the property value if you decide to sell up at a later date.

What happens if my ex doesn’t pay the mortgage?

Both you and your ex are liable for the mortgage payments until you reach a formal solution, either in terms of the property itself or in your personal circumstances.

If you or your ex miss a payment it will negatively affect both your credit ratings. This is because you remain financially linked while both of your names are on the deeds.

It’s essential that your ex continues to pay their part of the mortgage repayments, otherwise you’ll be liable for the full repayment.

If they don’t pay their share, seek legal advice.

It’s also important to get in touch with your lender. They may be sympathetic to your situation and offer a temporary solution such as a ‘payment holiday’ until a permanent solution is found.

Don’t panic

Going through a relationship break-up is an emotionally difficult time and it’s natural to worry about your finances.

“A separation can have significant implications for your mortgage, and you should seek help and support immediately to make sure you understand your responsibilities and next steps,” said Prakash Patel, a Trussle Mortgage Adviser.

“Contact your mortgage lender straight away to discuss your situation as they may be able to offer some kind of assistance.”

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