The best case scenerio is that you and your wife would reach an agreement about who will be responsible for the marital residence after you separate and/or divorce. Whatever you agree to should be put in writing. Generally this would be accomplished through a Separation Agreement. A Separation Agreement can also spell out additional terms, such as obligating the party keeping the house to refinance any joint loans (such as a mortgage) into their own name within a given period of time.
If you cannot reach an agreement on this issue, either party has the option of filing a lawsuit for equitable distribution of the marital assets, including the house. A judge would then decide which party will keep the house and under what terms. A claim for equitable distribution must be made prior to one party obtaining an absolute divorce.
You are correct that if you do nothing, you and your wife will both remain equally liable on any mortgages or loans secured by the house. If mortgage payments are paid late, this will be reflected on your credit report. If the mortgage goes into default and the lender forecloses, this will also be reflected on your credit report and could result in a large deficiency judgment against you.
Robin F. Verhoeven
Attorney at Law
Rosen Law Firm
4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 200
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service but a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action.