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Who pays the mortgage when separated?

Who pays the mortgage when separated?

Separation is never easy and the financial questions may be the last thing on your mind. However, bills and mortgage payments will continue, which leads to the question: Who pays the mortgage when you’re separated?

The rule of thumb is: If you and your ex-partner are co-borrowers, each of you will have to make payments towards the mortgage. If you don’t pay these instalments, you may be in breach of your mortgage obligations. This can jeopardise future financial decisions that you or your ex-partner might make. However, the situation may vary if just one of you is listed on the mortgage.

Option 1: Your ex-partner pays the mortgage

If the mortgage documents list only your ex-partner as the borrower, then it may be up to them to continue to make the payments. 

But what if you’re both listed on the mortgage and you’re not in the position to make payments?  

In the case of a divorce or legal separation, the contribution of a partner as a homemaker or a parent towards the welfare of the family is considered along with the financial contribution made by the breadwinner. Often this case is made either in mediation or in court. 

If you’ve moved out and your ex-partner is living in the mortgaged house, then it may make sense to have your ex-partner pay the mortgage since you have rental expenses of your own.

You could also choose to transfer your share in the property to your ex-partner, have them refinance the loan and pay you your due.

Option 2: You pay for the mortgage

If you are the sole borrower listed on the papers, it will be up to you to continue to make the payments. 

If you are a co-borrower, you will have to keep paying your share of the mortgage unless your ex-partner takes on the responsibility to pay. 

There is one silver lining though; paying mortgage instalments may be considered as a post separation financial contribution. This means that the mortgage amounts paid post-separation may get reimbursed later, after being offset against any expenses paid by your ex-partner during this time. 

Another temporary solution is to have your child support payments count towards the mortgage on the house.

Before you decide to pay the mortgage or not, it is advisable to seek independent legal and financial advice to make an informed decision.

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This article was reviewed by Personal Finance Editor Mark Bristow before it was published as part of RateCity's Fact Check process.

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