(TNS)—Q: After I was divorced, the court awarded our home to my ex-spouse and ordered him to refinance the mortgage to get me off of it. He has not refinanced the property several years later and pays the mortgage inconsistently, leaving my credit in shambles. What can I do to escape this nightmare? — Nona
A: There is no worse position to be in than owing money on a property that you do not own or benefit from.
Your best option will be to go back to the divorce court and ask the judge to enforce the order.
However, your ex may not be able to get a new loan due to income or credit issues.
Depending on the unique circumstances of your situation, the court may be able to order the property sold to pay off the mortgage, but this is unlikely if your ex is living in the home.
If the divorce court cannot help you, you can sue him in a new lawsuit for the damage that he is causing you. This only makes sense if he has money in the bank or assets you could take after winning your case.
If your ex is “judgment proof,” meaning he has no assets to collect, filing a new lawsuit would be throwing good money after bad.
Depending on your financial situation, declaring bankruptcy is an option. Your credit is already damaged, and if you have other debt, such as credit cards, this could solve the problem with your ex.
When someone on a mortgage files bankruptcy, they can be relieved of the obligation to repay the loan but lose their interest in the mortgaged property. Since you do not have any interest in his home anyway, a bankruptcy could get the mortgage loan and other debt off your record and give you a financial fresh start.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar. He practices real estate, business litigation and contract law from his office in Sunrise, Fla. He is the chairman of the Real Estate Section of the Broward County Bar Association and is a co-host of the weekly radio show Legal News and Review. He frequently consults on general real estate matters and trends in Florida with various companies across the nation. Send him questions online at www.sunsentinel.com/askpro or follow him on Twitter @GarySingerLaw.
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