In my divorce I was ordered to pay half the mortgage until the marital home is sold.
However, my ex-wife, who is living in the home, has showed no motivation for selling the house and is not maintaining the exterior so it even looks like a valuable property.
I am trying to understand how to get out from paying the mortgage on a house that is under water and will not sell any time soon due to my ex-wife’s lethargy.
What are possible legal ramifications if I quit paying my half of the mortgage in order to force her to sell the marital home?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Ohio divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
When you are dealing with a motion for contempt and issues surrounding the sale of marital property (i.e., real estate), your options are greatly limited by the language in your divorce decree.
First, did the court retain jurisdiction to handle the sale of the residence? If the court did not retain jurisdiction to enforce or modify the provision regarding the sale of real estate, your options through court are severely limited.
Second, is your ex-wife ordered to maintain the property before it is sold (lawn, landscaping, etc.)? If so, she could also be held in contempt.
If you have a good case to hold your ex-wife in contempt, you can request that the court “purge” the contempt by ordering a creative way to expedite the sale of the home (cooperation with short sale, order outlining the responsibility of the deficiency balance that would result from auction, etc.).
If the decree states that you are responsible for paying the mortgage and you stop paying the same, you could be held in contempt of court. Again, this depends on how this is handled within the decree.
In addition, if you stop paying the mortgage, the house will eventually go into foreclosure. After the house is sold at a sheriff’s sale through the foreclosure process a deficiency will result (the difference in what you owe compared to what the mortgage company actually received from the sale).
The mortgage company can then pursue collection of that deficiency and may eventually garnish you wages, put a lien on another piece of property you own, etc. If your ex-wife is obligated on the mortgage as well, they can do the same to her.
Therefore, if the decree does not give you options outside of “pay for the mortgage until the house is sold,” then it would behoove you (and your ex-wife) to try to work out a deal outside of court, reduce the agreement to writing, and file the same with the court.
I recommend that you carefully review your divorce decree, separation agreement, and any other pleadings that control your property issues.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.