Separating assets of a broken-down relationship can take time and one of the most common questions we get asked when people separate is who is responsible for payment of the mortgage, while we work out how the property pool should be divided.
The reality is that in most circumstances one party has the benefit of living in the former home while financial matters are resolved, however does that mean that they are obligated to make the mortgage payments.
The answer is, that there is no “right” answer, and who pays the mortgage will depend on the circumstances of each individual case.
Consider Sara and Rob (fictional characters). Sara is a stay at home mother looking after three children under three (I know, what were they thinking). Sara and Rob separate and while it is agreed that the house should be sold, Sara has no income to re-establish herself and the children in the short term. Rob on the other hand is the primary income provided and also has family that he can rely on for a roof over his head. In this circumstance, the practical solution is that Rob moves out of the family home but continues to pay the full mortgage until the property is sold.
On the other hand, we have Alex and Emily (also not real people). Both parties earn a good income and until separation have contributed equally to the property. Alex remains in the property and intends to keep it; however, he needs three months to get his finance sorted. Emily moves out of the property and into rental accommodation. Alex and Emily agree that even though the property is in joint names, Alex will make the full mortgage payments given that he is living in the property but also given that he intends to retain the property as part of the settlement.
Like all things family law, every situation will be determined by its own set of facts. What is common however is that the best solution is one that is practical and agreed upon by both parties.
If you have separated and you’re not sure what the answer is, contact one of our experienced Family Lawyers today.