Aside from infidelity and irreconcilable differences, financial issues often top the list of reasons why married couples file for divorce. In fact, one survey found that as much as 53 percent of Americans admitted to financial infidelity—the act of hiding their spending from their spouse. And while it may seem that women are often portrayed as irresponsible spenders, the problem affects both sexes pretty evenly.
It’s no surprise then why many divorced couples often have problems sorting out their mortgage and end up facing foreclosure, a situation further compounded by a divorce. Below are a few of things you need to watch out for when fixing your mortgage after a breakup.
On Transferring Interest and Liability
During a divorce, both parties may agree to have one spouse transfer his or her interest in the home to the other. However, while it may seem that this arrangement relieves the transferring spouse of any liability for mortgage payments, this is not actually the case.
If the house was listed under both spouses’ names, transferring interest of the property will not remove a spouse from mortgage liability. From the bank’s perspective, both spouses are still required to ensure the make timely mortgage payments, regardless of whose name is on the deed.
On Unpaid Mortgages
Should you or your ex-spouse fail to pay your mortgage, the bank will file a foreclosure against you and your ex, which will negatively affect both your credit scores. Worse, you could face a deficiency judgment, which orders payment of any deficiency between the remaining balance on the mortgage and the price the property sold for after being foreclosed.
Obviously, this is a nasty surprise for unsuspecting spouses still recovering from the cost of a divorce, only to find themselves dealing with a foreclosure for a house they no longer live in, much less own.
Solutions for Divorcing Spouses
During the divorce proceedings, it’s important that divorcing spouses put aside their differences and work towards a mutually beneficial arrangement that will insulate them from mortgage problems and fear of foreclosure.
Below are a few possible solutions:
Assumption: Should one spouse choose to continue living in the marital home, that person can assume the mortgage, taking over any responsibility for making future payments. This would release the other spouse from any mortgage liability.
Refinancing: The spouse who opts to stay in the property can also refinance the mortgage, which, just like an assumption, relieves the other spouse from liability. However, refinancing means that the spouse in question can only use his or her own credit to qualify.
Sell the House: When it comes right down to it, the safest thing you can do during a divorce is to sell your home. If you have equity, sell it and split the profits.