Can I force my ex-wife’s name off the marital home’s mortgage?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

I am a tenant in common on my marital home with my ex-wife. I am responsible for mortgage payments, though we are both on the mortgage.

I am attempting a modification on the loan to keep the rate low and lower my payment, but my wife says she will not sign anything to allow the modification since she “doesn’t care about the home.”

I’m in danger of defaulting on the mortgage without this lower rate, so do I have any legal recourse to compel my ex to sign off on the home?


First, let me preface my answer by stating that I am not licensed to practice law in your state. The information in the article is general in nature. You should contact an attorney in your jurisdiction immediately to discuss your options.

Your former wife will only have an effect on your loan modification if she is also on the mortgage. If she is on the mortgage to the home, your best defense may be to educate her regarding the effects of a foreclosure.

Become informed regarding the effect of foreclosure on credit score, the ability to gain future housing, and possible liability for any expenses that are not covered in the foreclosure sale. You can obtain this information by consulting a real estate or loan modification attorney in your state.

There will only be legal recourse to compel your former wife to assist in the modification process if it was ordered in your final decree of divorce. You should carefully review your decree to determine if you have grounds to ask the judge to force her to comply.

Additionally, any loan modifications are subject to the approval of the mortgage holder. You may be able to work with your mortgage holder to get a modification without your former wife’s approval.

You should inform them that you are divorced, and that you cannot make the payments without the modification. Many mortgage companies want to keep getting payments rather than have to pay for foreclosure proceedings and will be willing to work with your situation.

You should contact an attorney who is licensed in your state and specializes in real estate law to further discuss the specifics of your situation. Cordell & Cordell does represent clients nationwide.


Jill A. Duffy is an Associate Attorney in the Troy, Mich., office of Cordell & Cordell. She is licensed to practice in the state of Michigan. Ms. Duffy received her BA in Psychology and Spanish and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Oakland University. She received her Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law and graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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