You Can't Divorce Your Mortgage...

Real Estate Agent with La Rosa Realty, LLC. SL3246400

Divorce HouseCOVID-19 has done more than kill people, shut down schools, destroy small businesses, and instill fear in the populace. It also caused the divorce rate to rise.

Between April and June 2020, the divorce rate in the U.S. rose by 34%. This increase is attributed to a combination of fear, financial strain, illness, death of loved ones, isolation from extended families, home schooling children, increased alcohol and drug use, and too much togetherness for those in lock-down. 

Going through divorce is unpleasant at best, and when there's a house to "split," it can be even more unpleasant. 

If you find yourself in the midst of divorce, do remember that you can divorce a spouse, but not a joint financial commitment. That includes your mortgage. 

You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may agree on the property division and a court may assign ownership of the house to one of you, but if you have a mortgage that you both signed, you're both still liable for the payments. As you might expect, the bank has no interest in your divorce, and no desire to simply let one of you "off the hook" for the payments. For them, the more people responsible, the better. 

That means you're financially tied together until the house is either sold or refinanced by the person in possession. If it took two incomes to qualify in the first place, keeping the house may not be an option. 

More troubling to some is that if there's no refinance, the payment history will appear on both of your credit reports.   If the person responsible for making payments falls behind, you'll both suffer. 

For many couples, selling is the best choice, but even that can be stressful. Unless your divorce decree involved one of you signing a deed to transfer full ownership to the other, you'll have to reach some agreements. 

First you'll have to agree upon an agent, then you'll have to agree upon the price. You'll have to agree again when it's time to respond to offers. 

The agent you choose can be your key to success.

You need an agent who will be patient and sensitive to your needs, who will never divulge your motivation for selling, and who will never, ever take sides. You may also prefer an agent who is willing to meet with you separately. 

Finally, you need an agent who will present you with a clear market analysis and show you  your home's true market value, so you need not have conflict over the listing price. 

If the house you need to sell is in the Orlando area, I'd be pleased to offer you that kind of service. 

Posted by

Cathy Starkweather
Realtor & Investment/Vacation Home Specialist

1420 Celebration Blvd., Suite 100, Celebration, FL 34747
01.407.274.8476 /
Ranked in top 15 most active agents in Central Florida
Top 1% of all agents on Trulia

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Comments (6)

Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Cathy - this most recent pandemic has forced forward a lot of thought and reflection about living situations.  And while many have been positive, there has been some adverse impact.  Divorce is never pretty but unfortunately it's a part of life.  Pre-pandemic and likely far, far into the future.

Jun 21, 2021 02:48 PM
Cathy Starkweather

So very true Michael. 

Jun 22, 2021 05:22 AM
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co Notary Services retired RE Broker

Excellent post Cathy Starkweather . When I was active I used to wonder why people purchased such big houses. I later found out that all that space is how some people remained married. They could both be home and not have to see each other.  Now in my "retired life" as a loan closer I'm amazed how many people are trying to track down spouses who never signed a quit claim deed being they are now refinancing with the current (great) rates.

Jul 20, 2021 07:07 AM
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Hello Cathy,  You should blog more here in the Rain with your knowledge.  Make it a great day!


Jul 20, 2021 09:26 AM
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD

Making mistakes on mortgages can easily lead to long term credit issues.

Take care, be safe and have a productive month.

Jul 20, 2021 11:15 AM
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Cathy, being cooped up in a home together for long periods of time can strain a relationship.  Great post! 

Jul 21, 2021 05:59 AM
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Hi Cathy - similar situation with one of our neighbor's at our home in Florida.  They should have moved on it sooner.

Oct 29, 2021 03:29 AM