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What happens to a shared mortgage during a divorce?

One of the biggest issues involved in the property division aspect of a divorce is who gets the house. In many cases, the couple may have bought the property jointly and have both of their names on the mortgage. Even in situations where only one person is named on the loan, the courts may still treat the house as marital property if it was purchased during the course of the marriage and treated as a marital home.

It's important for both parties to understand that even if they can come to a mutually agreeable decision about who should get the house, it is not always that simple. The party retaining the property will need to be able to qualify for a loan on his or her own, which can be a challenge during a time of extreme change such as a divorce.

If it's not possible for one party to qualify for the loan by him or herself and the other person does not want to retain possession of the house, it may need to be sold and the profits equitably divided. It's important to talk with someone knowledgeable about this aspect of family law to ensure that you understand what could happen in this situation.

Divorce proceedings tend to get more contentious as time passes because each individual aspect of the property division process ends up being part of the overall emotional struggle of the divorce. Spouses may fight for things they don't even want in an attempt to punish or hurt the other party. It's usually best to decide who will get to stay in the house as early on in the separation or divorce process as possible.

Source: The New York Times, "Divorce and the Shared Mortgage," Lisa Prevost, Oct. 30, 2015

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