What Can I Do if My Ex-Partner Stops Paying Their Share of the Mortgage After Separating?

Answered on 13 February 2024 by

My ex-partner and I recently separated. They’ve said they’re not going to keep paying our joint mortgage. What can I do?

Nicholas Mendes

Divorce and separation are hard enough without the added complication of a mortgage. It’s not uncommon for one partner to move out - or even remain in the property - and refuse to maintain the mortgage payments when separated.

Be reassured that your ex-partner or spouse cannot simply walk away from your joint mortgage. There will be some extremely severe consequences if they try to as in the eyes of the lender, you're both equally liable to maintain the monthly payments. It's a pre-existing commitment that you've both already agreed to.

The first thing to do in a situation where one partner is refusing to make payments towards the mortgage is to 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, separate or split up. It doesn’t change. The debt and the agreement still remain the same. This is why talking to your lender or a mortgage broker is so important as they'll be able to establish your options moving forward.

Who Pays the Mortgage After Separation or Divorce?

All parties on a joint mortgage are jointly and equally 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.

Does My Ex Have to Pay Half 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.

What Happens if One Partner Stops Paying the Mortgage After Separation?

Any refusal to pay the mortgage will impact your ex-partner's credit file as well as yours. You will both enter into mortgage arrears, meaning it will be much harder to secure a mortgage or any form of credit moving forward. Any arrears could put your property at risk of repossession and impact your ability to secure a competitive rate in the future. Again, this is why it's so important to speak to your lender or a mortgage broker as soon as possible - they can help you avoid any further complications.

Can I Transfer a Joint Mortgage to One Person so It's in My Sole Name?

Transferring a joint mortgage to one person so it's in a sole name is possible assuming the party remaining on the mortgage meets the lender's affordability criteria.

To remove someone from the mortgage, they’ll also have to be removed from the title deeds. This is possible through a legal process known as a transfer of equity. A transfer of equity is when you transfer joint ownership of the property to one of the owners, or to a new person. The equity you have in a property means how much of the property you legally own without a charge on it, based on the amount you’ve paid in through your mortgage repayments.

As you can’t be on the title deeds of a property without being on the mortgage, you’ll need to have your ex-partner removed from the title deeds in order to enable the lender to remove them from the mortgage.

It's easier if you and your ex-partner come to an amicable agreement to change your mortgage from joint to single before you approach this with a lender. If one party doesn't agree, then you'll likely need to consult a solicitor and go down a legal route to establish ownership of the property.

Can I Remove My Ex-Partner’s Name from the Mortgage?

You can apply for a transfer of equity to have the property transferred into your name only and your ex-partner’s name removed from mortgage. It's much simpler if your ex-partner agrees before speaking to your lender about making this change. If your ex-partner doesn't agree then you may want to consult a solicitor.

If your application to have the mortgage in your sole name is refused by the lender, 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. Should this happen, it's a good idea to speak to a mortgage broker like John Charcol. A mortgage adviser will be able to look for alternative options with other lenders that may be more affordable for your situation.

A transfer of equity isn’t your only option. We list other potential solutions regarding separating with a joint mortgage in the next section.

What Can I Do if My Ex-Partner Stops Mortgage Payments After Separation?

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 and there's evidence that you're upholding your side of the mortgage agreement. 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 the mortgage include:

  • Replacing the person leaving the joint mortgage with someone who can afford it
  • Moving home and downsizing by selling the house and repaying the current mortgage. Note that neither party can sell without the agreement of the other - find out how much you could borrow on a new mortgage as a sole borrower with our calculator and compare fixed rate deals with our best buys
  • 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
  • Taking out a remortgage deal in your name only if you meet the lender's mortgage affordability criteria

If you'd like to know more about your mortgage options, including remortgaging, moving home mortgage deals, replacing someone's name on the mortgage and more then get in touch on 0330 433 2927We can help in all sorts of situations like if you require a self-employed mortgage, have bad credit, have a small deposit or something else.

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.

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Ask The Mortgage Experts answers 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.