Lenders will consider a couple’s joint mortgage as their shared legal responsibility. Both spouses are responsible for paying off a joint mortgage regardless of what is contained in their divorce decree.
If your former spouse stops making payments, your credit history will list late payments. In some states, lenders are allowed to pursue a legal claim against you for remaining balances after foreclosure.
The best legal protection is having the spouse refinance the mortgage in their own name if they assume responsibility for paying off that loan. That spouse should try to get a new home loan only in their own name if they are supposed to assume payments.
This may be difficult. It is harder to qualify for a home loan with one income instead of the joint income the couple had when they were married.
If a spouse cannot qualify for a new loan to refinance the mortgage, the couple should consider selling the home and using the sales proceeds to pay off the mortgage. This eliminates the burden of carrying this debt for decades.
There is also another option if your former spouse decides to assume payment of the mortgage. You may negotiate a term in the divorce settlement requiring your ex-spouse to refinance the mortgage in their own name as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, you still have to pay attention to this matter after your divorce. Stay informed on the payoff progress. If your former spouse starts missing payments, you need to act immediately.
This can involve seeking an enforcement order from the court. You may also to make temporary payments to avoid harm to your credit.
An attorney can help you seek options that meet your financial needs. They may also pursue your interests in negotiations and legal proceedings.