What Happens if a Divorcee Gets the House & Stops Paying the Mortgage?

Q: Gerald, I have a client who’s worried about his credit, because his ex-wife who got the house after their divorce stopped paying the mortgage. Jenny, North Bergen, NJ

A: Jenny, as part of a divorce settlement, one spouse often gets the marital residence.  In many cases, both spouses signed the original mortgage note (check with your client to see if this occurred in his situation).  Many people don’t realize that transferring title does not remove an ex spouse’s obligation on the note.  Furthermore, if the spouse who got the house stops making mortgage payments, there’s no way for the other spouse to get the property back.

One way for a spouse to protect themselves from this calamity is to simply push for the sale of the property as part of the divorce.

Thanks for your question, Jenny!  For more real estate information and tips visit my blog at