Mortgage Obligation


#1

My wife, for reason’s I don’t fully understand yet, moved out last week. She is ready to start the paperwork of the separation process. We’ve conducted a lot of the divisional work on our own, but are hitting a snag with our debts - particularly the mortgage on our “under water” home. Here are the bulleted details:
[ul]-8/2007 my wife and I searched for, found, and purchased a home together (we were not married at the time but had plans and had carried out those plans within a year)
-For credit rating reasons given to us by Country Wide, my name is the only name that appears on both of our mortgages (the now infamous “80/20 loan”) She, having recently been abroad for 6 months and unemployed would’ve brought our combined credit below the minimum standards.
-Both our names, however, are included on the Deed of Warrenty, the Deed of trust, and even our property owners tax stubs.
-Since 2007 we have both paid interest only on these loans out of our joint checking account that was filled by direct deposit from our work places and have never missed or been late.
-Because my wife’s name is not on the loan, she claims her lawyer has advised her to “walk” and any disputes in court would be an open and shut case in her favor, leaving me - a public school teacher (a job I’ve had since we’ve known each other)- with a monthly mortgage payment that is over 50% of my take-home pay and a house that is approximately $28,000 underwater.
-For clarification:
-I’m not a drunk
-I’ve never abused her
-I don’t do drugs
-I’ve never been unemployed during any part of our relationship.
-We took out life insurance policies on each other to cover the mortgage should either one of us die.
-She initiated this separation stating that we have “grown apart”.
-I have no proof that another person is involved. [/ul]

Here is the specific question I need answered but of course any additional advice is greatly appreciated:
Is her lawyer correct? Could my decision to leave her name off the mortgage for credit score reasons be enough to leave me with this entire debt, despite 4 year history of records that demonstrate this was a decision we made as a couple, in good faith. And secondly, is there any precedence out there of North Carolina’s 50/50 policy preventing someone from leaping through such loop holes? Obviously, I can only afford to take this to court if I win.


#2

A lot of individuals find themselves in a situation similar to the one you are describing. She may not be on the mortgages, but lenders usually have non-borrowing owners sign the deed of trust to show that another owner is encumberaing their property. Since the debt was incurred by you before the marriage, it is techincaly your separate debt, and she has no duty to the mortgage holders to pay the debt back. That said, I believe this would be a distributive factor. Even though she might not be obligated to the mortgage holders, I don’t think that telling her to walk away from the property is sound advice since her name is still tied to the property.

In North Carolina, there are many factors that are taken into consideration to make the determination of whether a 50/50 split of the assets and debts is equitable. The distribution factors are listed in N.C.G.S. 50-20©.