Who is responsible for the mortgage on the marital home?

divorce attorney Jill DuffyQuestion:

My wife was awarded the marital home so the title is now in her name, but the mortgage is still in both of our names. So I have this mortgage liability yet no rights to the asset.

I can’t buy a car or get myself a mortgage because her mortgage is still in my name. Do I have to wait until her mortgage is paid off or for her to refinance in order to no longer have this mortgage follow me around?

Would I be liable if she defaults on the mortgage?


Unfortunately, many divorcees are in a similar situation. Even though your divorce decree awards her the home, the mortgage company will not release you from liability until the mortgage is satisfied.

Your divorce decree may provide a timeline for your former spouse to refinance the home. You should read it carefully. If she has not refinanced within the allotted time, you may be able to petition the court for a sale of the home to remove your name form the mortgage liability.

Your rights and obligations with regard to the mortgage will be fact-specific depending on the language in your divorce decree. It is likely that she will have to hold you harmless from all liability on the mortgage. This means that she must pay the mortgage, and if she does not, she must reimburse you for anything you have to pay to avoid default.

How you should proceed will depend on the exact language in your divorce decree. You should contact an attorney licensed in your state to review your decree and advise you how to proceed.

Cordell & Cordell represents men in divorce 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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