If I am to split the mortgage payments but can no longer afford to do so, what are my options?

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If I am to split the mortgage payments but can no longer afford to do so, what are my options?

My divorce decree states that my ex wife and I will split the mortgage payments until the house is sold. The mortgage is in her name and I am on the title only. The house has been on the market for 2 years. My living situation is going to change and I will no longer be able to afford my half of the mortgage payment. The house is in one state and I now live in another. What course of action can she take if I no longer make the payments?

Asked on November 25, 2011 under Family Law, North Carolina

Answers:

L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question.  The laws governing divorce decrees can vary from state to state, but generally states focus on the same principles.  Any time there is a major change in circumstances, a person can file a petition the court for a modification of the court’s divorce decree.  Depending on the reason for the change in circumstances, the court may change the divorce decree so that all parties can be compliant with the requirements of the divorce decree.  For example, if you had a high paying job and then the company decided to close, and you would no longer be receiving your paycheck, then the court would view your ability to contribute to the mutual expenses differently.

However, if the change in circumstances is due to your own choice, then the court may not be willing to change your obligations under the divorce decree.  For example, if you had that same high paying job, and then decided to quit because you didn’t want your ex-wife to receive alimony payments, then the court would be less likely to change the current arrangement.

Depending on why you are having a change in your living arrangements and why this would change your ability to make payments for your prior mortgage will determine whether or not the court will change the divorce decree.  But since the bank will still have the right to collect mortgage payments and in turn your ex-wife will have to make the full payments, she could sue you for the portion that you are currently required to pay under the divorce decree.

If you need to file a petition with the court for a modification, you may find it helpful to contact a family law attorney in your area for assistance.

 


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