Expert mortgage advice on what to do with a joint home when you split up with your partner

Mortgage advisor Andrew Milnes on what to do with the family home when couples divorce or break-up

What to do with a joint home when you split from a partner

If you are getting divorced or dissolving your civil partnership, one of your biggest financial decisions could be what to do with your family home. Separating from your partner is an incredibly stressful time, so it’s important not to become overrun by your emotions. Take time to consider your options, do your research, and seek expert advice before making any kneejerk decisions. Here,are some of the most frequently asked questions by couples who own a home together but are sadly separating.

*After divorce, who has priority over the family home? Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. Even if the house is registered in one name, property is typically considered to be a marital asset so if arrangements can’t be made amicably, it might be necessary to go to court. And ultimately, the court’s priority will always be to make sure any children under the age of 18 have a secure home to live in.

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*I want to stay in the house but can’t afford the mortgage on my own, what are my options? There are several options available in this scenario, however, the first port of call is to check what benefits you might be eligible for. Then, once you have a better overview of your finances, you’ll be able to understand how ‘short’ you will be each month, if at all, and plan from there.

It might be that your ex-partner can continue to support you and your family by paying spousal maintenance, however if that’s not an option, you might have to consider selling the property.

Alternatively, you might qualify for one of the many new ‘DIY’ mortgage innovations, such as those from Generation Home. The latter includes the following: a “Deposit Booster” that allows friends and relatives to invest in a property, upfront and interest free; an “Income Booster’ feature, which supports affordability by making it possible to add immediate family members to a mortgage.

*We can’t agree on whether to sell the house or not. What happens now? If you and your ex-partner are locking horns over whether to sell your family home or not and you don’t believe it will be possible to come to a mutually beneficial agreement, you may need to get a court order. In this instance, a judge will make the decision for you based on the facts presented to them. But this can be a costly process in terms of time and money and is often stressful for both parties.

It is possible to appeal a judge’s final decision, however, there is a very strict time frame for this and it’s likely that you’ll be left with significant legal costs if you lose your appeal.

How do I get a mortgage on my own? Regardless of whether you’re looking to remortgage to buy your ex out of your family home or invest in a new place, the sooner you can get your finances in order the better. If you’re employed, you’ll need these documents when speaking to a broker: three months-worth of pay slips, your last three months bank statement, your last P60. If you’re self-employed, you need: three years of accounts, three years of evidence of earnings and three months of personal bank statements

Does age have an impact on my chances of getting a new mortgage agreement? Different lenders have different age limits. The main thing when borrowing in later life is proof your can pay the mortgage when you retire.