Separation inherently involves a high level of emotion and stress. However, there are important practical issues that need to be addressed at the outset such as who will pay the mortgage after separation and during the divorce process.
Firstly, it is important to understand that if your mortgage is in joint names both you and your spouse will inevitably be jointly and severally liable for making payment of the mortgage. What this means is that you are both responsible for ensuring that the mortgage is paid in full each month– this is the case even if one of you has moved out of the property. In the event that there are missed payments on the mortgage, this could have an impact on both of your credit ratings, even if one of you has moved out.
Remain living together in the family home if practically and emotionally possible
Often we advise our clients that if practically and emotionally possible, it may be beneficial if you and your spouse can remain living together in the family home until the overall finances have been resolved in relation to the long-term future. Although this is not always an ideal scenario for couples who have just separated, this could help to minimise the financial strain in the interim period.
Practical solutions if one party has moved out
It is not always practical or feasible for both of you to remain living under the same roof, and it is therefore important to consider practical solutions if one party has moved out.
It may be that you and your spouse can liaise with your mortgage provider and ask for a ‘mortgage holiday’. Some mortgage providers allow a couple a certain period of time to have their mortgage payments suspended. However, this is often for a limited amount of time and you need to be sure who will be responsible for paying the mortgage payments at the end of this ‘mortgage holiday’. Divorce and financial proceedings can take over 12 months to fully resolve, and it is unlikely that your mortgage provider would suspend your mortgage payments for this amount of time. However, it can be a useful mechanism to take some strain off your finances in the first instance.
Remaining in the family home and taking on the mortgage after separation
Importantly, if you are the spouse who is wishing to retain the family home in the long term future, then it is crucial to demonstrate from the outset that you are in a position to take over the mortgage and meet the monthly payments both now and in the long-term future.
Each situation on divorce is very different and it is therefore important to take advice from an early stage in order to address the various legal and practical issues that a divorce entails.