What are my options on removing my name from a mortgage?

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What are my options on removing my name from a mortgage?

I was awarded the house in my divorce but didn’t want it. My ex said she would

take it and I signed a quit claim deed. I found out later that had never been

filed. Had no idea that my name had not been removed until 15 years later when she started making her house payments late and the bank started harassing me. I told her that I would take her to court and she made payments late on purpose for over a year and destroyed my credit. I was the primary borrower on my VA loan and she was the co-borrower. What are my options on removing my name from the mortgage? Can I ask that she buy out my

portion of the house, or can I sell it? I don’t believe that she is entitled to

continue using my VA loan as we are divorced. My wife and I can’t buy our

home because of this mortgage on another house that I haven’t lived in for 20

years.

Asked on June 12, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Iowa

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You can't "remove" your name from the mortgage: the mortgage was an agreement between you and the bank (we are using "bank" here to mean the lender, whomever that was), and your divorce has no bearing whatsoever on it--the bank was not part of your marriage, was not a party in your divorce, and was not bound by your divorce. You could only get off the mortgage if the other parties to it--your ex *and* the bank--both voluntarily agreed to let you out of the mortgage (a contract--which is what a mortgage essentially is--can only be modified or changed, including to release a party from it, with the voluntary consent or agreement of all parties), and there is no reason for the bank to do that: letting you out of the mortgage removes a person responsible to pay it, and thus reduces the bank's odds of being paid.
If you had a written agreement with your ex that in exchange for you quit claiming your interest in the home to her, she would refinance the loan in her name only, in theory you could enforce that agreement--sue her, to get a court order requiring her to sell. The lawsuit would be based on "breach of contract"--on her violation of the agreement. However, in Iowa, you can only sue to enforce the terms of a written contract up to ten (10) years after the violation--which means that "15 years later," you may be out of time to sue your ex, even if have a written contract (once the statute of limitations, or time to sue, passes, you cannot bring a lawsuit).


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