Divorce and separation are hard enough without the added complication of a mortgage. It’s not uncommon for one partner to move out and refuse to maintain the mortgage payments.
Be reassured that your ex-partner cannot simply walk away from your mortgage. There will be some extremely severe consequences if they try to.
The first thing to do in this situation is inform your lender. You should then consider seeking legal advice.
What Happens to a Joint Mortgage When You Divorce or Separate?
Nothing happens to your mortgage when you divorce or separate. It doesn’t change.
All parties on a joint mortgage are jointly and severally liable for making sure the full capital and interest payments are made every month, irrespective of who lives in the property or any personal agreements between borrowers.
You can put another arrangement in place if you find that your mortgage no longer suits your needs after separation. Speak to a broker about your options.
Or, see our guide for more information on how divorce or separation impacts your mortgage.
Is My Ex-Partner Still Expected to Pay the Mortgage?
You and your ex-partner are equally liable for the mortgage – this remains true even if the loan is based on the income of one party or if one party moves out of the property. Your lender has the right to chase both parties, either jointly or individually, for payments – plus any costs, legal fees or loss made upon any possible repossession.
Any refusal to pay the mortgage will impact your ex-partner’s credit file as well as yours. You will both enter into arrears, meaning it will be much harder to secure a mortgage or any form of credit moving forward.
Can I Remove My Ex-Partner’s Name from the Mortgage?
You can apply for a transfer of equity to have your partner’s name removed from the mortgage and the property transferred into your name only. You’ll need make sure your ex-partner agrees before speaking to your lender about making this change.
If your application for a transfer of equity is refused, it’ll most likely be because of an affordability issue. The lender will want to know that you have the income to support the whole of the mortgage payment by yourself.
A transfer of equity isn’t your only option. We list other potential solutions in the next section.
What Can I Do if My Ex-Partner Stops Paying?
Speak to your lender as soon as your ex-partner indicates they won’t be maintaining their share of the mortgage payment.
Lenders sometimes show leniency on cases where they’re kept updated. Some lenders may even consider reducing your monthly payments by converting to interest-only or extending the term.
Other options if your ex-partner stops paying and a transfer of equity is refused include:
- Replacing the person coming off the mortgage with someone who can afford it
- Downsizing by selling the house and repaying the current mortgage – note that neither party can sell without the agreement of the other
- Getting a court order to remove your partner from the title deeds but not the mortgage – they would have no further claim to the property but still be liable for the mortgage
- Remortgaging in your name only if deemed affordable by the new lender
You may want to speak with a free debt counselling organisation like Citizens Advice. They can advise you on any benefits you could be eligible for.
It’s also a good idea to consult a solicitor and arrange some mediation before you get to the point of missing payments.