The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Business

July 8, 2013

Real estate Q&A: Divorce doesn’t wipe out joint mortgage

SUNBURY — QUESTION: I got divorced in 2010 and deeded the house to my ex-husband. Little did I know that mortgage would still be haunting me today. I’m trying to get a loan for a new house, but the lender sees that other mortgage and won’t approve my financing. What can I do?

-Anjie

ANSWER: The first thing to do is to ask your ex-husband to refinance the mortgage in his name alone. Normally, a married couple will borrow for their home together and have to put both names on the mortgage to qualify. When the marriage turns sour, one spouse will get the house and make the mortgage payments going forward. The divorce, however, is from each other. The loan from the bank is not affected.

The other spouse rarely realizes this until he or she gets turned down for a new mortgage because the debt load is too high. Or he or she gets served in a foreclosure lawsuit when the ex-spouse stops making the payments. This sort of problem is best dealt with before the divorce is final. Have the property sold or refinanced into one name while all of the other details of the divorce are being negotiated.

Trying to get a former spouse to cooperate several years after the divorce can be an exercise in futility. By shopping around to several lenders, you may find one that will look at the situation and the divorce paperwork and make an exception for the debt on the old house - especially if your ex-husband makes his payments on time.

Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He is the chairperson of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is an adjunct professor for the Nova Southeastern University Paralegal Studies program. Send him questions online at http://sunsent.nl/mR20t7 or follow him on Twitter GarySingerLaw.

The information and materials in this column are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is formed. Nothing in this column is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney, especially an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.

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