This article by Susan Edmunds, was first published in Stuff.co.nz.

I’m at a loss as to how to go forward. My partner and I separated three years ago and have a house with a valuation of $890,000. The mortgage is $430,000. I still pay half the mortgage. My ex won’t sell the property and he can’t service any extra debt to pay me out. I have personal debt of $35,000 which I want to consolidate but I’m not able because I’m liable for the house. I can’t see a way forward. Forcing a sale of the property isn’t really an option because our son is at home.

This is a problem with no clear solution.

I spoke to Jeremy Sutton, a lawyer who specialises in divorce and separation.

He said the first step should be to meet with your ex to talk the issues through. If that did not work, you could go for mediation – depending on your income, this could be fully funded. If that still did not yield a result you were happy with, you could engage a lawyer with a view to filing court proceedings to demand resolution.

That could include forcing a sale to reduce the liability on you. You say you don’t want to do this but at the moment there is no clear end in sight for your situation as it is.

“A clean break is supposed to be a clean break at some stage,” Sutton said.

He said it would also be worth looking at whether it was fair for you to continue to pay half the mortgage in the meantime.

In general, the person who lives in the house and gets the benefit of it would normally be responsible for the mortgage, rates and insurance.

He said it was possible to have some of the equity owing to you in the house paid out as an interim distribution, if your ex could afford to do so without selling the house.

But he said some action needed to be taken.

“It’s like if you want to fix a leak in your house and you don’t have the tools. You have got to pick up some of the tools – if you’re not prepared to pick them up it’s not going to happen.”

 

This article was first published in Stuff.co.nz