There is so much involved when you are getting a divorce. The emotional shock seems to outweigh all else. You certainly don’t want to think about financial matters. But you must. Many unscrupulous lawyers make their monies on quick and dirty divorces. They don’t tell you everything that you need to know.
The following story is true, but the names were changed to protect the innocent. (OK, I admit it, this happened to my cousin’s uncle’s wife’s brother, several years ago.)
Billy Joe and Cindy Sue were crazy in love. You know the kind I mean, hot monkey sex in the front seat of Big Daddy’s Chevy Truck. They’re both seven times three and decide to run off and get married. For the first five years, all is bliss and bed linens. Then little things start to annoy the happy couple. Billy Joe spends all his time with the hound dog pups, and Cindy Sue thinks the TV is her best friend. One thing leads to another and soon, they decide they want a divorce. They find a cheap and quick lawyer in the yellow pages and all is hunky dory.
Cindy Sue gets the house and TV. Billy Joe gets Big Daddy’s Chevy truck. They agree to split the credit cards and the 6 hound dog pups. The local judge pronounces them unmarried and the final decree is signed. The happy individuals walk out separate doors to begin new lives. They think everything is taken care of. They signed every line and crossed every t. They don’t realize there’s still paperwork to do. No one told them they needed to get the house refinanced in her name, or sell it to remove his name from the mortgage.
Skip ahead a few years. Cindy Sue can’t make much money sitting on her rump watching TV, so she is unable to pay the mortgage and has fallen three months behind.
One day, Billy Joe gets a phone call at work. The caller identifies herself as Marsha Ann from the Down Home Mortgage Company. She tells him if he can pay X amount of dollars, plus late fees, then they won’t start the foreclosure proceedings. “Whoa now,” he says.” I divorced that house. ”
Yes, the divorce papers said that Cindy Sue gets the house and is responsible for making payments and upkeep. However; did they go to the mortgage company and refinance the mortgage in her name? No, remember, they thought everything was taken care of. His name is still on all the mortgage documents. He is just as responsible for the mortgage now; as he was the day, they signed the papers, regardless of what the divorce decree says.
So, once Billy Joe gets over his shock and anger, what should he do?
A. Take a baseball bat to the front door of Cindy Sue’s house?
B. Call up and yell obscenities at the quick and dirty divorce lawyer?
C. Cut the wire on Cindy Sue’s cable TV?
D. Find an attorney familiar with foreclosure law who can advise and assist him in dealing with the mortgage company.
As much fun as A, B and C, would be, the correct answer is of course, D. Billy Joe needs to find a reputable attorney fast.
They may be able to negotiate a new repayment schedule until they can get the house refinanced in Cindy Sue’s name. Or they might have to sell the house if Cindy Sue’s credit isn’t good enough to refinance.
Remember that Cindy Sue also got all the credit cards? Yep, you guessed it. Billy Joe started getting phone calls at work about those accounts too.
The moral of this story is when getting a divorce; remember it is not over as long as your name remains on joint accounts and assets.
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