I was with my ex-husband for 13 years and came into the relationship with my own place and my own business.
In the years before separation, I had years of expensive IVF treatment and then treatment for cancer, so I’d been working casually. I was working four to five days a fortnight around my chemo treatment. My ex didn’t want to help out financially and insisted I was responsible for my share of the mortgage while I was getting treatment and unable to work. He said, “You need to apply to the bank for hardship because you need to pay your half of the mortgage.”
During the relationship he convinced me to sell the place I had in my name to contribute to a place we bought together in joint names. We also set up two businesses in the marriage and he put the businesses and all assets of the businesses in a company that was solely in his name.
He left the relationship once he had everything in place to benefit himself and while I was only working casually as I recovered from serious cancer treatment. At separation, he froze our joint personal bank accounts, and I had no access. I also found out he’d taken assets out of the company and bought his own place.
At the time he left I approached the bank to allow me to take over the mortgage on the place we had jointly. It was where I was still living and working; it had a purpose-built studio for my work. The bank said they wouldn’t even consider refinancing the home to me. The home at that point was worth just over $600k and the mortgage repayments were about $700 per week.
I begged the bank manager. I said, “I am prepared to live with others – I can rent out the other rooms. I’ll do anything.” Because I knew how important it was. They said they couldn’t do anything and I was forced to sell.
Now, five years later I live in my brother’s investment property. If I hadn’t been able to move into my brother’s place, I would have been homeless or very economically challenged renting elsewhere because I would have had to move to a smaller town, leave my family and connections, and leave my business or start my business again with a smaller potential market.
My brother made my rent affordable and has only in the last year raised the rent to closer to market value. My rent is currently $600. He could probably get $700+ for it; about the same as my previous mortgage. My mother has moved in with me now so it’s more affordable.
The house I was forced to sell is now worth $1.4m and I can’t imagine I’ll be able to get back into the market. If the bank had been able to give me the mortgage in my name and a grace period with lower repayments, I would still be in my own home.