Separation and divorce are extremely stressful and emotionally draining. A joint mortgage can make that significantly worse. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a partner to refuse to maintain mortgage payments when they have moved out of the home. The good news is that your ex-husband or wife cannot walk away from a mortgage commitment – if they attempt to, they will be met with some heavy consequences.
The first thing you need to do is to inform your lender of the situation. After that, it would be wise to seek legal advice.
he short answer is: nothing. A separation to divorce makes no difference to the obligations of both parties in a joint mortgage.
All parties involved in a joint mortgage are liable for ensuring the capital and interest payments are made in full every month. Personal agreements between borrowers and the state of the living arrangements have no bearing on this.
If you find that the mortgage no longer suits your needs after separation, you can put a new arrangement in place. Contact a broker to discuss your options and get expert advice on the best course of action.
Is my ex-partner still required to pay the mortgage?
You and your partner are equally liable for the mortgage. This is true even if the loan was based on one party’s income or if one of you moves out of the property. Your lender has the right to pursue both parties either jointly or individually for payments. If repossession occurs, they will also seek costs, legal fees and other losses from you.
Refusing to pay the mortgage will severely impact your ex-partner’s credit file as well as yours. You will both go into arrears, meaning it will be harder for you to secure a mortgage or any other form of credit in the future.
Can I take my ex-partner’s name off the mortgage?
You can make an application for a transfer of equity. This can enable you to remove your ex-partner’s name from the mortgage and transfer ownership of the property into your name only. You will need to speak to your ex-partner to make sure they agree to this before contacting your lender to make the change.
If your request for a transfer of equity is declined, it will probably be down to an affordability issue. The lender will need to know that your income is sufficient to keep up with the full mortgage payments without the input of your ex-partner.
A transfer of equity isn’t the only option available to you.
What can I do if my ex-partner refuses to pay?
Get in touch with your lender immediately when your ex-partner tells you they won’t continue paying their share of the mortgage. Lenders are known to show leniency in some cases if they are kept updated. Some lenders may even be open to reducing your monthly payments by extending the mortgage term or converting to an interest-only mortgage.
Other options to consider when your ex-partner stops paying and a transfer of equity is not possible include:
Replacing the person leaving the mortgage with someone else who meets the affordability tests
- Selling the house and repaying the current mortgage in order to downsize – remember, neither party can sell without the other agreeing to it
- Getting a court order to have your partner removed from the title deeds – they would no longer have any claim to the property but would still be liable for the mortgage
- Remortgaging to a new deal in your name alone – you would have to pass the lender’s affordability checks
You may find it helpful to speak to a free debt counselling organisation like Citizens Advice. They can offer guidance on any benefits you may be able to claim, among other things. We also recommend consulting your solicitor to arrange some mediation between you and your partner before it gets to the point where payments are being missed.