THE Supreme Court ruled that following a divorce, mortgage payments on the family home should be split equally between partners. The mortgage was taken out for the benefit of both, said the court, and as half of the property belonged to each spouse, the debt applied equally to the joint marital assets.
The test case reached the Supreme Court after a divorced man in Lliria (Valencia) appealed against a court sentence ordering him to pay 80 per cent of the outstanding mortgage. His ex-wife, however, was responsible for only the remaining 20 per cent.
Both he and his wife were working, argued the man, and he already paid €400 a month in maintenance for their two children.
On reaching the Supreme Court, the tribunal reversed the earlier verdict and ruled that judges should no longer base mortgage payments due from divorced spouses according to their separate incomes. Nor should they take into account maintenance payments for children.
The Supreme had set a precedent with a landmark decision, believed lawyer Consuelo Abril, founding member of the Family Lawyers Association.
“For the majority of divorced couples, an unpaid mortgage is always a stumbling block when cases came to court,” she said.
Asked what would happen if one of the divorced spouses did not work or had a very low income, Abril said that he or she would still be responsible for half of the mortgage.
In practice this should turn out to be less unfair than it appeared, she explained. “Whichever member of the partnership earned less would receive a higher allowance from the other to compensate for this.”