Can my ex-wife take legal action against meif I haven’t taken her name off of the mortgage due to my inability to re-finance?

I was awarded out house (way upside down) in our divorce. My ex left the state immediately upon separation and did not want anything to do with the house. She keeps threatening legal actions if I don’t get her off the mortgage. That part of settlement reads that I receive the property and am responsible for all expenses and holds her harmless against any debts, etc. It also reads that, “The husband will attempt to refinance the home so the mortgage is satisfied and the new loan mortgage note shall obligate only the husband and the wife shall be removed from any obligation under the mortgage and mortgage notes”. I attempted to refinance and they turned me down because I owe way more then current assessed value.

Asked on November 30, 2010 under Family Law, Florida


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

As long as you have made a good faith attempt to refinance the house , there is nothing that your ex can do.  In this economy no court would hold you in contempt for failing to procure new financing.  However, should there be a loss incurred for which your ex-wife is held responsible, you would legally be responsible for indemnifying her (i.e. reimbursing her losses).  This also means, that you must continue periodically to try and refinance the loan.

One other thought, possibly you could try to get a "novation". This entails asking your lender to remove her name from the mortgage.  As a practical matter this isn't typically allowed but you could try. A novation could be accomplished by your paying the mortgage for a period of time generally (8-12 months), then if you are is current, have no late payments, and can prove that you were the only one paying the mortgage, your lender may allow you to remove her name.  Also, you may be able to obtain a novation if you "buy" her release by making a substantial payment to reduce the mortgage balance. 

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