My ex-wife was awarded the marital home in the divorce decree, but she has yet to remove my name from the mortgage and deed as required by the agreement.
The mortgage company now says I cannot remove my name from the mortgage because my ex-wife cannot refinance the home alone.
How can I get my name off the marital home mortgage that was required by our divorce decree? Could I just take the house back since my ex-wife cannot afford it?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on Pennsylvania divorce and property division laws where I am licensed to practice.
Based on the limited facts supplied in your question, it sounds like your ex-wife is not complying with the terms of either your marriage settlement agreement or perhaps the equitable distribution order of your divorce decree.
Decrees in equitable distribution of property can usually not be modified. However, the court may grant post-decree special relief in the form of modifications to, or enforcements of, a decree in equitable distribution pursuant to its equity jurisdiction.
There is no time limit on the court’s equity jurisdiction. Also, marriage settlement agreements may be enforced to the same extent as a court order.
Therefore, you probably need to petition the court to either enforce your marriage settlement agreement or equitable distribution order. This will not provide you with instant relief, but it will begin the process of getting your name removed from the deed and mortgage of the marital residence.
The court has various enforcement remedies, including transfer or sale of property, security for future compliance, attorney fees and costs, and contempt.
Most likely, if you seek enforcement, the court will grant your ex-wife some reasonable time period wherein she can attempt to secure financing solely in her own name or with the help of a co-signor other than yourself.
The length of time the court may grant her in order to comply can vary, it may be as simple as truly making a good faith effort to refinance or find another co-signor, or it could be some longer process like building up her credit score so that she may refinance herself—this would be up to the discretion of the court.
If your ex-wife fails to take the necessary steps toward achieving what the judge orders, you could file a motion for contempt, since she is in contempt of court for not obeying the order. Also, if your ex-wife is truly unable to refinance, there is the potential that the court could order her to list the house for sale.
It is unlikely that the court would award the house to you; forfeiture of a party’s equitable distribution award for failure to comply with an order has been disapproved of as harsh and inequitable where I practice.
There are various scenarios that could play out, but the first step toward removing your name from the mortgage and deed is petitioning the court to enforce your equitable distribution order or marriage settlement agreement.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with divorce lawyers for men in your jurisdiction.