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My client separated from her husband, and moved out of their home a year ago. The house is in his name. If he falls behind in payments, will she be held responsible?

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  • 11/12/2001
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It is quite unusual these days to find a man and wife buying a home in one or the other's name, inst...

It is quite unusual these days to find a man and wife buying a home in one or the other’s name, instead of joint names. This is a recognition of the contribution that each makes to the purchase and maintenance of the family home, not just in financial terms, but in terms of looking after the home and any children they may have.

Where a property is in joint names there is joint responsibility, and it goes without saying that each party is entitled to share in any equity, or pay in the event of negative equity.

In this case however, the house is in the name of one sole owner ‘ the husband. I do not know when the house was purchased, nor what it is worth, nor why it was purchased in one name ‘ possibly it was the husband’s own property before the parties married ‘ but the whys and wherefores are not relevant.

The simple answer is clear ‘ that no-one can be held responsible for payment for something to which they were not a signatory. Your client is therefore not responsible.

However, it may be that the husband was financially dependent on the wife and therefore he could apply in the course of any divorce or separation proceedings for maintenance which could, in theory, include mortgage payments.

This is something your client would need to discuss with her solicitor and at the same time, a valuation could be made of the property to establish whether it would be sensible to look at buying the husband out.

In any proceedings, any interests ‘ financial or otherwise ‘ of your client would also be taken into account so there is plenty to consider. Unfortunately, it is a case of lawyers at 12 paces.


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