Do I have any recourse from lenders if my ex-husband forged my name on loans?

Got divorced. Ex-husband got 2 houses, I got 1. After the divorce I found out there was a home equity line on the house that I had kept and he was continuing to take money out. Only way to keep him from continuing to withdraw money was to pay off the account. Paid off that loan with another home equity loan. When I received the papers I saw that he had forged my name on the home equity loan. There was also a second mortgage on 1 of the properties; he kept with my name on it. He was ordered by the judge to refinance in 30 days and did not. The mortgage company started coming after me when he stopped paying. I started paying trying to save what was left of my credit rating and asked for copies of the original papers. The company sent them to me and again my ex-husband (who was my husband at the time he forged my signature). Someone (not my ex’s writing) added a note, “Attorney in fact”. I didn’t realized that I had not signed either of these until I received copies from the bank. I was on the road a lot and sometimes deployed so I was used to signing things my ex put in front of me but I never gave him power of attorney. Ex-husband is now in a nursing home. Do I have any recourse against the first bank to get the money I paid them. Do I have any recourse against the second bank to be removed from that mortgage? Can I do this myself I am really struggling, haven’t paid last months gas bill yet and don’t know how I would pay for an attorney. Can you tell me how to do it?

Asked on March 6, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) If you do did not take out the loans or give your ex-husband the authority to take them out on your behalf, then you are not liable on the loans. Proving this may not be easy--the banks, for example, will have a vested interest in keeping you liable, so as to get paid--so you really should get an attorney to help you. You may be able to qualify for a free one (try legal services if you are low income) or get a recommendation from the bar association to one who will take this pro bono.

2) If the paperwork looked solid, then the banks might not be liable or responsible for the money you've already paid--banks can generally rely on paperwork and documents, if they appear to be on the up and up. If the documentation was bad and banks were negligent (or careless or irresponsible) in accepting it, that's a different story, and you should discuss this with your attorney.

3) You cann sue the ex-husband for any losses, money paid out, etc. you've incurred--he, after all, committed a crime against you. (You could also contact the police.)


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