Husband willfully letting house be foreclosed

My husband, we are currently in the process of divorce, has not paid the mortgage in 4 months. I am not on the mortgage but was told at the beginning of the divorce that all property in Vermont is marital property whether it’s in one name or both. We were attending case managers conferences to determine the distribution of assets and I now find out that the mortgage company is beginning foreclosure on the home. I requested all bank statements from June 2018 to current, and going through them my husband has spent thousands of dollars on dating sites/ porn/ etc. and the totals of those purchases would have been more than enough to cure the default. I was told by a friend of both of ours, that he is planning on letting the house be foreclosed on and that his parents will purchase it at a fraction of the home’s current value. Can I do anything about this? Can he actually willfully let the house be foreclosed and his parents buy it for him to still live there?

Asked on January 1, 2019 under Family Law, Vermont

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

The only way to keep the house out of foreclosure is to make sure that the mortgage is paid: your marriage, your husband's behavior, your rights as spouse, your divorce, etc. have no bearing or affect on the lender or the mortgage, which is a contract. The lender is not part of your marriage and is not affected by what happens in or to it--but it can enforce its contractual rights. If the mortgage is not paid for any reason, the lender can foreclose. Once foreclosed, if the home is sold at a foreclosure sale/auction, anyone can bid on it (e.g. his parents, you, your parents, a friend, etc.). So yes: he can refuse to pay his mortgage except as set forth below, and let the lender forceclose.
The only way to force him to pay--assuming he has the money to pay--is to get a court order requiring him to do so. You may be able to get such an order from family court, in the process of your divorce: the court has the power to require the divorcing spouses to take steps, do things, and pay money to maintain the "status quo" (e.g. ownership of the house) pending divorce. This kind of order can be procedurally tricky to apply for, especially if you want to do so on an "emergent," or urgent, basis so as to get an order quickly, before any foreclosure happens; retain a family law or divorce attorney to help you right away.
You could also, if you have or can get the money, make some mortgage payments, while doing the above, to prevent foreclosure in the meantime: the bank does nto care where payments come from, so long as it is paid.


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