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Dealing with a mortgage in a divorce

When two people divorce, the split will always be personal — after all, you're dissolving a serious relationship. However, the law is innately impersonal, and treats your marriage like a business relationship. Because of the official nature of your personal relationship with your spouse, some parts of the process can be surprisingly complex. One of the most common areas of difficulty that divorcing couples encounter is what to do with a mortgage.

There are many factors that may contribute to your decisions, so there is no one-size-fits all answer. However, the most common and often simplest course of action is to sell the home. In this scenario, once the home is sold, you split any profit after the sale and are done. However, some markets do not move homes very quickly, or you may not be able to sell the home at a profit, so it can be tricky to decide who pays the mortgage until it sells. If one of you is able to take over the mortgage, then that may be the best option.

Of course, when negotiating a divorce settlement, it is hopeful to create a fair split, but it is often difficult to value different assets appropriately, and some assets, like a home with a remaining mortgage, require some means to maintain. If both of your names are on the deed, then you will want to make sure that the spouse keeping the home can refinance it in his or her own name solely on his or her income. You do not want your former spouse's actions to affect your credit if he or she misses a payment.

There are many other factors that contribute to a fair division of assets. Whatever your situation may be, there is certainly a solution, even if it is one that does not seem ideal. If you need personal guidance in a divorce settlement, an experienced attorney can help you navigate this tricky terrain and protect your rights.

Source: Money, "What Happens to Your Mortgage in a Divorce?," Ashley Eneriz, accessed Feb. 23, 2017

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