Divorce and mortgage

Divorce is never fun. Certainly not if you bought a house together. During a divorce, the question often arises as to who can continue to live in the shared home. Which partner can continue to live there depends on many factors. This depends, among other things, on income and any children living at home.

The mortgage

It is often the case that when people decide to divorce, there is still a mortgage debt on the house. This is partly the result of the explosive increase in the number of interest-only mortgages. And in some cases there will even be a debt that is greater than the current value of the house. In other situations, the house may be worth more than the debt on it.

Dissolution of the mortgage upon divorce

In many cases, one of the former partners will continue to live in the home. The other partner will live elsewhere. You usually see that the man moves elsewhere and the woman and children stay behind in the former home. This usually goes well for the first month, but after that the former couples quickly encounter various problems. As long as the divorce is not final, they are jointly responsible for the payment of the mortgage. So even if the other partner lives elsewhere, as long as the marriage or cohabitation contract has not yet been dissolved, both partners are responsible for repaying the mortgage.

Buying out one of the partners

In the event of excess value, the partner who continues to live in the home will have to buy out the other partner. This seems quite simple, but in practice it leads to enormous arguments. So the first question is, at what amount should the other partner be bought out. After all, a house has a market value, a foreclosure value, a WOZ value and an expected value. This is the time when people decide to hire a divorce lawyer. Because the differences between the various valuation principles for the marital home can amount to tens of thousands of euros. The market value is often taken into account. But this is not a requirement, in principle the partners and the lawyers representing them are free to determine the amount of the buyout amount.

Buying out the partner in a cohabitation contract

For partners who cannot reach an agreement without a divorce lawyer, it may be advisable to first carefully review the cohabitation contract. These often already contain answers to a lot of questions. For example, many cohabitation contracts stipulate that buying out one of the partners can and may be spread over a period of five years.

If both former partners want to keep the marital home

Another common problem is that both ex-partners want to keep the former marital home. This is of course not possible in practice. What often happens is that the partner who is willing to pay the most for the home is allowed to keep the home. This is often quite easy to arrange without using an expensive divorce lawyer. The one who pays the most will then have to buy out the other partner. However, this situation is more difficult when there is a debt that is higher than the value of the home. In these types of cases, the departing partner will still have to pay if he wants to leave the home. Here too you can negotiate in reverse, the partner who lets the other leave as cheaply as possible can keep the marital home. Of course, there are still many conceivable scenarios. But whatever you do, try to negotiate rationally and only hire a divorce lawyer if you really cannot reach an agreement yourself.