Does my ex have to pay half of the mortgage?

Divorce or separation is hard enough without worrying about finances. If you want to know whether your ex has to pay half of the mortgage, read on.

The content of this article was relevant at the time of publishing. Circumstances change continuously and caution should therefore be exercised when relying upon any content contained within this article.

Frustrated young woman gazing out of the window while her male companion stares at his phone

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They say breaking up is hard to do, but for some couples, separating the finances is even harder. If you want to know whether your ex has to pay half of the mortgage, this article has some answers.

Who is responsible for the mortgage in a break-up?

When it comes to the mortgage, legal responsibility lies with the person or persons named on the mortgage agreement.

So if either you or your ex are the named person, then this is the person responsible. Alternatively, if you are both named, then you have a joint mortgage and you have equal responsibility.

What happens if you have a joint mortgage and split up?

As such, the legal responsibility remains despite any relationship breakdown. So if you have a joint mortgage and you split up, you are still both responsible for making sure the repayments are paid on time.

If one or both of you stop paying the mortgage, this could result in missed payments. Any missed mortgage payments will have a negative financial impact on both of you. It doesn’t matter who stops paying, you both will end up being negatively affected.

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Can I force my ex to pay half the mortgage?

If your ex is named on the agreement with the lender, they have a legal obligation to pay half the mortgage. If your ex chooses to stop paying, there are some steps you can take.

You can put a request in writing to your ex. If they refuse, you can apply to the court for spousal support. Bear in mind that while this process is taking place, the mortgage repayments will need to be made to prevent getting into arrears.

This process could sort things out in the short term. If the break-up is permanent, you will need a long-term solution.

How can you terminate a joint mortgage?

You will need to think about a permanent separation of your finances if you both want to move on. With this in mind, you have a number of options for terminating a joint mortgage.

Sell the home

This is a common option used by divorced or separated couples. Sell the property, pay off the mortgage and divide what is left between both parties. There are some things to consider:

  • If you are in negative equity, the outstanding amount owed will be higher than the value of your home. You will have to divide the outstanding debt between you.
  • If you are unmarried but signed a Declaration of Trust or Deed of Trust, you may need to divide the proceeds in accordance with this legal document.

Transfer equity

Simply put, this is what happens when you buy out your partner or your partner buys you out. One of you sells the other their stake in the home. Legal ownership and responsibility for the mortgage then change from both people to only one of you.

This needs to be done in agreement with the lender. The person taking over sole responsibility for the mortgage will need to prove to the lender that they can afford the repayments on their own.

Pay off the mortgage

If you are close to paying off the mortgage, it may be easier to continue making payments until the mortgage is paid in full. This will mean that both you and your ex will have to pay half the mortgage each.

Once the mortgage is repaid in full, you will be free to sell the home and divide the proceeds between you.

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Take home

It’s best to try and resolve the situation between you and your ex as amicably as possible. You will save time and money if you come to an agreement that suits you both. If necessary, seek legal advice for clarification on your specific situation.

Further information on dividing your home and mortgage in the event of a relationship breakdown is available from the Money Advice Service.

Should you invest, the value of your investment may rise or fall and your capital is at risk. Before investing, your individual circumstances should be considered so you should consider taking independent financial advice.

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