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Answered on 7 October 2019 by Nick Morrey
My ex-partner and I recently separated. They’ve said they’re not going to keep paying our joint mortgage. What can I do?
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 husband or wife 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.
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.
You’re equally liable for the mortgage, even if the loan is based on one party’s income or one of you moves out. Your lender can pursue both of you either jointly or individually for the payment - plus any costs, legal fees or loss made upon any possible repossession.
Not paying your mortgage will affect your ex-partner’s credit file in the same way it’ll affect yours. You’ll both go into arrears which will make it harder for either of you to obtain a mortgage in the future.
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.
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:
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.
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.