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When your spouse wants to keep the house

For many couples who separate and make the choice to get a divorce, the topic of what to do with their house can be one of the most contentious. In many cases, one person wants to stay in the home perhaps to maintain some stability for their children or simply because they love the house. Regardless of the reason, the spouse who might leave the home should know how to protect themselves if they allow the other person to keep the house after the divorce has been finalized. 

As explained by, simply leaving a home and outlining responsibility for the mortgage payments to the other person via the divorce decree does not remove a person’s liability for the debt in the eyes of the lender. A bank will always consider anyone named on the mortgage to be financially responsible for that home loan. Therefore, both person’s credit reports would reflect the mortgage payment history, including any late or missed payments. For this reason, a person who allows their spouse to keep the house should require that their name be removed from the mortgage or that a new mortgage be obtained by their former spouse. 

The Mortgage Reports indicates that some home loan programs may allow an original joint mortgage to remain intact and remove one person’s name. If a couple does not have this type of loan, the person who wants to keep the house should evaluate their ability to qualify for a new mortgage. Home equity and the person’s post-divorce income and credit score will all be evaluated in this process. 

Many people choose to sell their home during a divorce as this often ends up being the simplest way for both parties to make a clean break.