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Can I keep a mortgage and a house after divorce?


Choosing what to do with a house in a divorce is only part of the equation. Couples also need to determine how to handle a joint mortgage.

When getting divorced, it is not uncommon for Washington spouses to feel a strong emotional tug to keep their marital homes. This may be especially the case for parents who want to maintain some consistency for their children. If this is something desired, however, people should still evaluate their options from a financial perspective in order to avoid being tied to their former spouses through a mortgage.

Homes and mortgages are separate things

When choosing to keep a home, couples may make an agreement for one person to stay in the home and the other one to leave. Part of this agreement may include that the person who will live in the home will be financially responsible for paying the mortgage. This may seem all well and good but if a mortgage remains in both spouses’ names, this agreement may not hold a lot of water.

Time explains that even when a quitclaim deed is used to transfer home ownership to one person, a joint mortgage is still a joint debt. That means if the person who stays in the home fails to make mortgage payments, the other person may be held responsible for the payments. In addition, the other spouse’s credit could be negatively impacted by the failure to stay on top of mortgage payments by their former spouse.

A home sale is often the cleanest option

Bankrate suggests that one of the biggest reasons so many couples sell their family homes when they get divorced may well be the ability this provides them to avoid being financially connected to an ex once a divorce agreement is signed. In addition to the financial break, selling a house may also give people a cleaner emotional start.

Refinancing or obtaining a new home loan

For spouses who are really adamant about not leaving their homes but who do not want to keep an existing joint mortgage, they may investigate refinancing to obtain a new home loan in their name alone. This will require that they have sufficient income that can qualify them for a solo loan which may be tricky knowing that they will likely have a reduced income after their divorce.

Getting help from an attorney

Washington residents should talk to an attorney to fully understand the financial implications of handling their homes and other assets during a divorce. Every decision in a divorce may have unforeseen consequences and getting the input of a professional may give people the insight into these in order to avoid unwanted outcomes.