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Are you married to your mortgage?

Divorce mediation is a process that can put you in control of your post-marital future. The end of a marriage is a time of uncertainty where you likely feel powerless.

With the help of an attorney-mediator, you can bring clarity to your post-divorce future, starting with where you will live as you begin your post-divorce life.

Heart Versus Head Decisions

If you and your spouse purchased a home during your marriage and still have a mortgage, the end of your relationship does not end your responsibilities to your lender. As with any liability, the remaining amount owed is subject to division.

When it comes to the family home, setting aside nostalgia is difficult. However, ridding yourself of joint debt can help you move on. Options exist and include:

•  Sale - if neither party wishes to retain the former marital residence, the property can be listed for sale with a mutually agreed-upon listing agent. An attorney-mediator can assist you in implementing terms of a sale such as what repairs will be completed before listing and under what circumstances the listing price will be adjusted.

•  Refinancing - if one party wishes to retain the residence and both parties are on the current mortgage, one spouse can apply for their own mortgage to cover the cost of paying off the old mortgage and releasing the other spouse from liability - along with borrowing enough to "buy out" the other spouse's net equity interest. Obviously, whoever is seeking to refinance will need sufficient income and credit to qualify.

•  A short sale - in the unfortunate circumstance where you and your spouse are "under water" on your mortgage (if you owe more on the mortgage than the house is worth), some lenders will agree to a short sale. However, if your bank does not release you from remaining liability, your credit could be affected.

When Marriage Ends, But A Mortgage Continues

If neither party can refinance and a sale or payoff are not realistic, an attorney-mediator can help with an agreement for one spouse to keep up the payments while the other spouse remains on the mortgage. While risks exist - specifically a spouse defaulting and damaging both credit records - certain protections can be put in place.

An attorney-mediator can help you negotiate spousal maintenance payments to be used to make house payments. If spousal support is not part of your divorce, a separate agreement can mandate sale or refinancing of the house if one payment is missed.

While a stable financial future should override emotional attachments to any property, your needs and goals must be a top priority for your attorney-mediator.

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