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Dealing with a mortgage deficiency judgment after divorce

It is not uncommon for one spouse to keep the marital home after divorce. Unfortunately, the individuals who are not granted their homes in divorce may not be taking the appropriate precautions to protect themselves against creditor claims in the future. The simple truth is, whether in Massachusetts or elsewhere, if both spouses are listed on the mortgage -- even after divorce -- both individuals can still be held responsible for paying back the loan.

A divorce settlement may state that one spouse will be awarded the marital home, and that individual will be responsible for making the required mortgage payment. However, what is written in a divorce settlement means very little to lenders. If the names of both parties remain on the mortgage, and if the spouse that was granted the home fails to make payments, the lender can go after either party in an effort to collect payment.

Fighting a mortgage deficiency can be difficult. If a judgment is filed against the individual who was not awarded the home in the divorce settlement, there may be little he or she can do to avoid having to pay. However, it may be possible for that individual to go back to family court in order to have the terms of the dissolution contract upheld. In doing so, it may be possible to recover any financial losses sustained as a result of an ex-spouse's failure to abide by the settlement terms.

Sadly, dealing with a mortgage deficiency judgment after a divorce is a very real possibility if one spouse keeps the marital home along with the mortgage that came with it. It is simply impossible to tell what the future holds. Divorcing couples in Massachusetts can protect themselves financially, though, by either selling their marital homes -- if possible -- or by ensuring the details regarding the responsibility of certain assets is clearly defined in final settlements. One's legal counsel will be able to assist in achieving a fair and balanced settlement that provides the protections needed.

Source:, "Mortgage trumps divorce agreement", Tom Resnick, July 10, 2016

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