Jointly owned property

Jointly owned property leads to a lot of disputes after a separation. Quite often there are also mortgage payments to take care of.

Jointly owned property usually should be sold after the separation or divorce. The proceedings from the sale are split evenly between the spouses. It does not matter at all, which of the spouses made the mortgage payments during the marriage.

A sale is only possible, if the spouses can agree upon it. Quite often they do not, at least initially. If a sale is not possible because one of the spouses is basically blocking the proceedings, the only solution is an application to the local court for a forced sale (Teilungsversteigerung).  The court will then evaluate and auction off the property. Financially this is usually not the best solution, as the cost of the procedure (evaluation, court fees, possibly lawyer´s fees)  is quite substantial and the sale price is often lower than what you could get by selling the property yourself. Also, a forced sale of a family home is usually possible only after the divorce, not before.

What other implications does jointly owned property have? Take for example the - admittedly quite stereotypical - case, that the husband moves out and the wife stays in the house with the minors. The husband has paid for the mortgage during the marriage, the wife has no income of her own. 

The husband keeps paying for the mortgage. He could claim back half of his payments after the beginning of separation. He could also claim a compensation for the usage (basically a rent) of his half of the house by the wife.

The wife, on the other hand, has an alimony claim against her husband. 

This situation is usually solved within the calculation of the alimony (spouse support) claim. The complete mortgage is subtracted from the husband´s income. If the husband does not claim a monthly rental payments from his wife (for using his share of the property), she also has a fictitious income from rent-free living, making her support claim smaller. If the husband also keeps paying for the running cost of the house (by law this cost have to be paid by the wife, who utilizes the house), these cost can be subtracted from his income as well. So, basically, the situation is resolved  by a smaller alimony claim. This works only if the support claim is substantial because of the large difference in income. 

The situation also becomes much more difficult once the alimony claim ends, usually several years after the divorce. So it´s best to take care of that in time by selling the house and paying off the mortgage.