Paying the mortgage

If your spouse or partner moves out, you'll need to consider how to keep up with the mortgage payments. This page explains your options. It also looks at how you may be able to get help to pay the mortgage.

Who is responsible for paying the mortgage?

We own our home jointly

If you and your partner own your home jointly, it is likely that you will have a joint mortgage as well. This means that you are both jointly and separately responsible for paying the whole amount, so if one of you cannot or will not pay your share, the other will have to pay it instead. This is the case even if one of you is not currently living in the property.

We are married or in a civil partnership and one of us is the sole owner

If you are married or have registered a civil partnership, the owner is still solely responsible for paying the mortgage (unless you have a joint mortgage). However, the non-owner has the right to make payments towards the mortgage.

We live together and one of us is the sole owner

If you live together, the owner is still solely responsible for paying the mortgage. However, the non-owner can choose to make payments to the mortgage if they wish.

What can I do if my partner leaves?

We are joint owners

If your partner leaves, check with your mortgage lender to see if they are still paying their share of the mortgage. If they've stopped paying, you will be liable for making the full payments on your own. If you find this hard, it's important that you pay as much as you can each month, even if you can't make the full payments.

My husband or wife or civil partner is the sole owner

If your spouse or civil partner is the owner of the home and they move out, you'll need to contact the mortgage lender to find out whether the mortgage is still being paid. As the owner's spouse or civil partner, you have a right to this information. You also have a right to make payments yourself, but you won't be held responsible for missed payments unless the court has ordered you to pay them.

If you want to stay on in the home after your divorce, get in touch with the mortgage lender and let them know this. If your spouse has stopped making payments, it may be a good idea to pay them instead, if at all possible. This way, the mortgage lender will be more likely to transfer the mortgage into your name if the court transfers ownership of the home to you. This will also prevent the mortgage lender repossessing the home before your divorce is finalised.

My partner is the sole owner

If the owner moves out, you'll need to get in touch with the mortgage lender to find out whether the mortgage is still being paid. The mortgage lender may refuse to give you this information, but if you explain your situation, they should let you know whether or not payments are being made.

If your partner has stopped paying the mortgage, you can decide to make the payments instead, to prevent the home from being repossessed. Your lender is under no obligation to accept your money, but it's unlikely that they'll refuse. If your partner then decides to sell the property, you probably won't be able to get back the money you paid towards the mortgage. This is a complicated situation, so speak to an adviser at a Shelter advice centre, Citizens Advice or Money Advice Service if you're in this position.

Help to pay mortgage interest

In certain circumstances, you may be able to get help to pay mortgage interest as part of your benefits. Either spouse or partner can claim this, regardless of whether you are joint owners, the sole owner, or a non-owner.

What about insurance?

You'll also need to check whether your partner is still making payments to any insurance policies connected to the mortgage, such as buildings insurance or life insurance.

Can I make my partner pay their share?

If you are married, in a civil partnership or live with an opposite sex partner and have occupancy rights, you may be able to ask the court to order your partner to make payments towards the mortgage and other household expenses, even if they have moved out.

If you have a joint mortgage, you may be able to take your partner to court to force them to pay up. You can find out more about going to the small claims court from the Scottish Court Service.

What if I can't pay the mortgage?

If you don't keep up the mortgage payments and build up arrears, the mortgage lender may evict you and repossess the home.

Speak to your mortgage lender if you are in this situation. They may agree to reduce your payments for a period of time, or you may be able to extend the term of your mortgage. The section on mortgage arrears has more information on this.

Call the National Debtline or talk to a Money Advice Service who may be able to help you negotiate with your lender.

If you need to talk to someone, we’ll do our best to help. Get Help

Last updated: 29 December 2014

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England