Hello again and thanks for the information.
My advice is that you should not reduce the mortgage until after you have got the property into your sole name, by buying out his interest in it.
As ex-cohabitees rather than a divorced couple, the only financial/property claim that either can make against the other is against assets that you own jointly or that the person claiming has a financial interest in. In your case, it sounds as if the property is the only asset that that applies to.
At the moment, you and your ex own the property jointly, and you are both jointly responsible for the mortgage. But you also both have the owenship of the equity. Since you have been separated for 7 years, the ideal scenario is that you end all financial ties between you - which means that to get the property into your sole name, you will need to buy out his interest in the property.
Unless it was specified differently on the transfer deed when you bought the property, the chances are that you own the property equally as joint tenants in equity, which means that on the face of it each of you are entitled to 50% of the equity (ie the value of the property less the outstanding mortgage on it). But you can argue for a bigger than 50% share as you have made capital payments for the last 7 years.
If you each own 50%, then you would need to pay your ex £70,000, but if your share is 60% (say) because of paying the capital element of the mortgage for all these years, then his share is 40% = £56,000. You already have £20,000, so you would need to raise the extra £36,000 by increasing the mortgage to £71,000, for which you would need to have an income of £71,000 / 3 = £23,700.
My advice is that you aim to negotiate a figure (which may be less than what I've suggested) to buy him out as soon as possible, because whilever his name remains on the title deeds, he has an argument for 50% of the equity, which is inevitably going to increase as the years go by.
If you can't reach agreement on what that figure should be, then either one of you can make a claim to court under section 14 of the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996, generally referred to as TLATA or TOLATA. The only orders that the court can make are a) a declaration of ownership ie specifying the share of the property that you each own and b) an order for sale, which can be suspended until the youngest child reaches 18.
However, going to court is expensive, stressful and time-consuming so a negotiated settlement is much preferable. Anyway, the court now requires the parties to have attempted mediation first before it will consider an application to court. Here's where to find a local family law mediation service near you:
I think you woul also benefit from some face-to-face legal advice. Here's where to find a specialist family law solicitor:
I hope this helps and I wish you the best of luck.
Thanks and best wishes....