Common Misconceptions about Homeownership and Divorce in Texas
Good morning, I’m Marivonne Essex, and I’d like to talk to you today about some common misconceptions that people have when they come in to talk to me about getting a divorce. One of the most common misconceptions is, what happens with real estate, with a note on it that people have when they get a divorce. What I help them to understand is that homeownership is in two parts. The first part is who owns the property. Who actually owns it. Who’s name is on the deed. That part is very easy to take care of in a divorce. If the people agree or if the judge decides that one person is awarded the property, it’s very easy to do a warranty deed that awards that property to them. But the second part of homeownership is, who owes for the property. If there is a mortgage or lean on the property, then the judge unfortunately does not have the discretion to tell that lender, “Okay, this person will pay or this person will not pay.” The person or persons who’s names are on the lean are going to continue to be responsible for that note no matter who’s name is on the deed later, so it’s very important to understand that, for example, if you say to me, “Well, my husband can have the house, I don’t want the house, he can have the house, just let him have the house. Get me off the note.” It’s important to understand that that is not going to happen. It can only happen in one of two ways. One of those ways is if the house is refinanced, and the other way is if the house is sold. If those two things, if one of those two things does not happen, and your spouse is awarded the real estate, then you’re going to lose control over that aspect of your credit report, and if that person does not pay the note, then it’s going to show up on your credit report, as well as your spouse’s credit report. This will be true, even though that you no longer own the property. So these are decisions that have to be made very carefully in a divorce and these are things that I explain and talk to my clients about and be sure they have a thorough understanding of it before they make any decisions about who will be awarded the community real property. I’d love to talk to you about it. We’re always available in my office and we spend whatever time we need to make sure you understand these complicated issues.