My Ex Stopped Paying The Mortgage

Dear Susan,

Our divorce decree allows me to live in our marital home for five years and my ex-husband has to pay the mortgage.  For the first year after our divorce, the situation worked out great.  About two months ago, my ex-husband stopped paying the mortgage.  I contacted my divorce lawyer who said that if he does not pay for another six months, we can go back to court. I am afraid that I may lose my home.  What should I do?  My four children are 4, 5, 7 and 10 years of age and I can’t afford a place big enough for the five of us.

Please help me.

LuAnn


Hi LuAnn,

I am so sorry to hear about this.  I can imagine how frightened you are.  Your attorney knows that the mortgage company is not going to foreclose during the next six months and is giving your ex-husband time to come up to the plate and pay the mortgage.

Normally, I would recommend you do what your attorney tells you to do. In this instance, I have some concerns and they include – first and foremost – why did your ex stop paying the mortgage?  If he lost his job or has other financial problems, I would say that waiting for six months only gives him more time to fall further behind to the point that he can’t catch up.  On the other hand, if he is not paying the mortgage to spite you, then that is an entirely different situation.  He will be able to produce the mortgage if and when push comes to shove.

I highly suggest that you take two proactive stances.  First.  Contact the mortgage company and tell them of your situation and provide them a copy of the divorce decree that states that he is responsible for the mortgage payments. This should get them off of your back and onto his.  Second, make a contempt filing with your court jurisdiction.  Only a judge can legally enforce him to pay the mortgage.

This is definitely a scary situation to find yourself in and I empathize with you.  I also believe you should start to look at other options should the house get pulled out from under you.  You and your children will most definitely have to downsize. Since they are still young, you can make it an adventure for them instead of a frightening move.

Please take the appropriate action as soon as possible.  Once they get older it will be harder to enforce.

Susan