The last thing you want to think about when your relationship is falling apart is your shared assets and finances.
But while it’s something you’re likely to want to push to the side, there are things you can do to help make the process easier on yourself.
“Navigating a divorce when you have a mortgage is all about protecting your financial future – and that means keeping your credit history in tact and retaining an equitable share of the joint assets to build upon for your (and potentially your offsprings) future,” mortgage brokerage Two Red Shoes founder Rebecca Jarrett-Dalton told Yahoo Finance.
“What you do now impacts your all-important next move.”
Related story: Are you behind on your mortgage? Here’s what you need to do
Related story: How to talk your way to a cheaper home loan with your bank
Here are some of her pointers that will help smooth the bumpy ride and keep your finances in shape:
1. Let the relevant authorities know
Let the lenders know what is going on, Jarrett-Dalton advised.
“Wherever possible I would recommend you keep up your repayments together but don’t rely on someone’s say so – check yourself that this is happening,” she said.
“And if it’s too much for you, apply to the hardship team for assistance.” Just be wary that this may have repercussions if you want to buy again, but it won’t be as bad as the repercussions of sticking your head in the sand, Jarrett-Dalton added.
2. Keep things civil, especially if there are kids involved
This is less to do with the mortgage and more to do with just making the whole process easier for everyone – including any kids you have together – if you side-step the tit-for-tat fighting, according to the mortgage brokerage founder.
“It may also improve each of your bargaining positions when it comes to the property division if you aren’t fighting out of spite.”
3. Decide who’s paying for what and who has access to what
Jarrett-Dalton has heard several horror stories of exes blowing their spouse’s credit cards and leaving massive debt in their wake.
“Without leaving your ex penniless, consider cutting off their secondary card to your account if it’s prudent to do so, turning redraw to ‘two to sign’, and directing your income elsewhere,” she told Yahoo Finance.
4. Get advice
It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to get quality legal advice. “If you’re in agreement then legal advice is steering the ship and presenting it to the court,” said Jarrett-Dalton.
“Expensive comes about when you and the ex are fighting and could end up costing you more than the difference you’re fighting about, so be a bit thoughtful about that.”
5. Don’t spend recklessly
If you’re able to keep the house, you’ll save a lot on costs.
But if you can’t, don’t blow the money on a holiday or a new car or clothes, cautions Jarrett-Dalton.
“Use it to get back into the market and start rebuilding. Again, time for good advice.”
Related story: These are Australia’s 10 best home loan lenders
6. Don’t throw your hands up altogether
The mortgage brokerage founder has seen too many instances of someone walking away with absolutely nothing while their former partner ‘takes all’, “‘just to get it over with’”.
“It incenses me. This is your future,” said Jarrett-Dalton.
“They will not be thanking you, and neither will you in another decade. Do not be that person.”
Make your money work with Yahoo Finance’s daily newsletter. Sign up here and stay on top of the latest money, news and tech news.