What to do if 3 years after our divorce, my ex-wife’s name is still on my house?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What to do if 3 years after our divorce, my ex-wife’s name is still on my house?

The divorce has been completed 3 years ago ending in her getting some money and me keeping the house and the profits that will come out of the sale whenever it happens. Her name still shows on my mortgage bills and she also can’t close her bank account because she is still attached to that loan. Is it worth it to refinance on my name only or am I safe to leave it this way and sell in the future? I am confused as to what it means that she still is on the loan although the divorce states that the house is my responsibility and the profits will be mine. Can she come back at me if I don’t refinance in my name?

Asked on January 7, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Being on the mortgage is different than being on the deed. The mortgage is about who has to pay for the loan, not who owns the home; you can be obligated to pay even if you are not an owner of the home. The mortgage is a contract, between the borrowers and the lender; the mortgage is NOT affected by whatever happened in your divorce, since the lender was not part of your marriage or a party to the divorce; the divorce does not bind or affect the rights of anyone but the spouses. The only way to remove her is to refinance, paying off and closing out the current loan and replacing it with a new one.
If you sell while she is still on the mortgage, all that happens is that the proceeds of the sale first go to pay off the mortgage--which they would even if you were the only name on the mortgage--then, per your divorce, you get the remaining profits (if any).

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