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Answered on 30 October 2019 by Nick Morrey
I recently separated from my ex-partner. We share a joint mortgage and I’m staying in the property. How do I remove their name from the mortgage after we divorce?
It’s very common to remove one partner from a joint mortgage after divorce or separation, or even to take out a completely new mortgage in just your name. The course of action that best suits you will depend on your situation.
All parties on a joint mortgage are jointly and severally responsible for making sure the monthly payments are made, which means you and your ex-partner are equally liable for the mortgage all the time both names are on it. Any missed payments will damage your credit profiles equally.
It makes sense that people often want to remove their ex-partner’s name from the mortgage after separation. They no longer share the property, therefore their ex-partner will be less inclined to continue making monthly payments which could damage both parties’ credit scores and put one party’s home at risk.
To take a name off the mortgage, they must also be removed from the title deeds - which means the ownership of the property must change. Sometimes one party actively wants to be removed, usually so they can borrow what they want on a new property with a new mortgage.
Transferring any amount of ownership of a property is called a “transfer of equity” and is carried out by a licensed conveyancer.
You can sometimes keep your current mortgage when transferring equity. Other times, you’ll want to remortgage.
When you keep your current mortgage, but remove your ex-husband/wife/partner, their name is simply taken off the mortgage and title deeds after you divorce or separate via a transfer of equity. Your mortgage only changes insofar as it goes from a joint mortgage to a sole one, unless you add someone to the mortgage to replace your ex - like a new partner or family member. It would then remain a joint mortgage, just with someone new added to it.
You need agreement from your ex-partner and lender for a transfer of equity. To obtain your lender’s consent, you must meet their affordability criteria either by yourself or with the person replacing your ex-partner on the mortgage.
If you decide to stay with your current lender and remove your ex-partner’s name from the mortgage and title deeds, you may need to raise some extra funding to buy out your ex-partner.
You could request a further advance with your current lender or take out a second charge loan with a different lendernew one if necessary. In both these instances you would have to demonstrate that you could afford the extra borrowing, in addition to the original mortgage. You can add a new borrower to the second charge as well as the original mortgage.
If you don't meet your lender’s criteria, or you need to raise capital to buy out your ex-partner as they’re entitled to equity in the property, you may want to consider remortgaging.
Remortgaging is where you stay in the same property but take out a new mortgage with a new lender. It’s a way to switch provider to raise money and maybe secure a more affordable deal.
The solicitor will take your ex-partner’s name off the title deeds when you remortgage. You’ll still need your ex-partner’s consent to do this.
See below for some examples of when you may need to buy out your ex-partner.
It may be possible to obtain a court order to transfer ownership of the property to you solely if your ex-partner doesn’t agree to a transfer of equity. This would enable your lender to change the name on the mortgage without their permission or signatures. You’ll need to speak to a solicitor about this.
Find out more about how divorce or separation impacts your mortgage in our guide.
Your ex-partner will be entitled to some of the equity in the property if his/her name is on the title deeds and the property is sold.
If their name is not on the title deeds, they still might be able to able to make a legal argument to establish a beneficial interest in the property.
The may be able to establish a beneficial interest if:
It’s worth noting that your ex-partner isn’t necessarily entitled to a share in the property because they made a financial contribution. We always recommend you consult a solicitor and obtain legal advice. They can help you establish your rights and options.
The cost of removing your ex-partner from the title deeds will depend on whether you must buy them out of the property. A remortgage, further advance, or a second charge are a few ways to raise the funds you need and take your ex-partner off the title deeds.
You should speak with a solicitor to find out whether and how much you’ll have to pay your ex as this is a legal, rather than mortgage matter.
Other costs may include:
Answers provided in response to Ask the experts are based on the information provided and do not constitute advice under the Financial Services & Markets Act. They reflect the personal views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of John Charcol. All comments are made in good faith, and John Charcol will not accept liability for them.
We recommend you seek professional advice with regard to any of these topics where appropriate.