Ask a Divorce Lawyer: Can the court order me to pay the arrears on the house if it is in foreclosure?

Question: Can the court order me to pay the arrears on the house if the marital house is in foreclosure? I just want this house to be sold as a short sale, and to get my name off the house so she does not have it any more. She cannot afford the payments. No payments have been made on the house since March 2009. Yet she is still in it. 

I had to file for Chapter 13, tried to help her debt, but she decided to go after me for more money to try to get alimony. The judge did not want to discuss it. The judge said that will be discussed in another case. So can the court order me to pay?

 

Answer:  I am not licensed in the State of Maryland so I am only able to answer this question based upon general practice.  Therefore, the specific answer in Maryland may differ.  It is unclear what stage of the divorce process that you are currently situated.  If the divorce is pending but not finalized, in most jurisdictions the court can enter temporary orders (called Nisi or Pendente Lite or PDL in some jurisdictions).  A temporary order can dictate how the marital expenses are paid while the divorce is pending.  If your wife has refused to contribute to the marital expense and is “wasting” the property you can ask the court to assess that loss in the final distribution of property. 

If the divorce is finalized and she was awarded the house but she has not made the payment the court can not come back now and force you to contribute toward the expense.  In fact if she was awarded the house and you were awarded some of the equity in the home following the sale you may have a claim against her for failing to maintain the property.  

 

Spencer E. Williams is the Team Leader over St Louis, St Charles, Indianapolis and Arnold (Jefferson County, MO) offices of Cordell & Cordell, P.C. where he practices exclusively in the area of domestic relations. Mr. Williams has tried numerous cases dealing with complex custody issues, maintenance, business assets and personal asset division. 

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