Only One Spouse On Mortgage But Both On Title Divorce

When a couple owns real estate jointly, the deed and mortgage are typically signed by both parties. But occasionally, only one of the two parties is in charge of making mortgage payments.

Although it doesn’t happen often, when it does, their divorce can become complicated. Who will be left with debt if mortgage payments are not made? Who will be entitled to what? Can one of us still live in the house? If so, do we need to refinance?

Find out what can happen to real estate when both parties are listed on the deed but not the mortgage by speaking with the renowned Philadelphia divorce attorneys at the Schwartz Law Firm LLC. Give us a call if you have this issue and are considering divorcing. Use our more than 50 years of experience to your advantage to get the best result possible.

Your Name Is on the Deed, But Not the Mortgage

You have a right to the house if your name is on the deed. The deed itself will specify the type of ownership interest. There are several ways for people to own real estate in Pennsylvania:

  • Sole ownership
  • Tenants-in-common
  • Joint tenants
  • Joint tenants with right of survivorship
  • Tenants-by-the-entireties
  • Married couples generally own their real property as tenants-by-the-entireties. As a result, their interest in the assets is divisible and automatically passes to the surviving spouse upon the death of either spouse. If your names are on the deed, you are tenants-by-the-entireties, which means that if one of you passes away, the other will take full ownership of the property.

    You are not responsible for repaying the mortgage loan if you are not on the mortgage for any reason. But if your spouse passes away, you inherit their share of the property. However, the mortgage lender has the right to foreclose on the property and evict you if you fall behind on your mortgage payments.

    Determining Who Owns Your Home

    According to the type of ownership interest they chose when they purchased the property, whoever is listed as the owner or owners of the property on the deed owns the house. However, if the mortgage is not paid as agreed, the mortgage lender, who has a secured interest in the property, may take action against both the mortgagee and the property (through foreclosure).

    The people listed on the deed own the house for the purposes of property settlement, but there are additional steps to either divide the equity in the house or decide what happens if one party wants to stay in the house. Divorcing couples in PA generally choose one of these options:

  • Sell the property and divide the proceeds according to their interests in other marital assets and the property settlement agreement;
  • Refinance the property in the name of the spouse that will reside there, the other spouse to execute a quit claim deed;
  • Continue to pay the mortgage with one spouse residing in the property, no change in mortgage or deed.
  • In order to keep the children in the same school district, the parent with primary custody of the children from the marriage will frequently continue to live in the marital home, with the other parent paying the mortgage through court-ordered support.

    What Happens If Your Spouse Is Not On the Mortgage

    Your spouse is not liable for paying the mortgage if they are not listed on it. However, if the mortgage is not paid, the mortgage lender may foreclose on the home.

    Mortgage Holder vs Title Holder

    Real estate ownership is obtained through deed transfer. Transfer of title results in ownership of vehicles like cars and boats.

    The title to a vehicle is not yours if you owe money on a loan for it. Instead, up until the loan is repaid, the lender holds onto the vehicle’s title. You cannot sell your vehicle until you have paid off the loan and received the title from the lender.

    In contrast, if you have a mortgage and owe money on it, you still own the deed to your home, but the mortgage lender has a lien against it. You can hold off on paying off those liens until the actual sale, when they will all be paid off with money from the seller’s payment and you will receive the balance.

    Is Your Spouse Entitled to Half of Your House If It’s In Your Name?

    Perhaps. It depends upon your unique financial situation as a couple.

    Since Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, divorcing parties receive an “equitable” or fair share of the marital property instead of necessarily receiving “equal” shares.

    Talk with an Experienced Divorce Attorney

    Real property is usually a couple’s greatest marital asset. How it is dealt with in divorce might be one of the most important financial decisions a couple makes, along with how pensions are divided and whether continuing financial support is necessary. We have the experience to help you get what you deserve in your property settlement agreement, including your real property regardless of who is on the deed and who is on the mortgage. Call us at 215-967-9070 and put our over fifty years of experience with Pennsylvania family law to work for you. We can help you get the arrangements that are best for your family, including child custody, child support, spousal support, and division of marital property, especially for high asset couples who are divorcing.


    Does it matter whose name is on the mortgage in a divorce?

    Although you and your spouse may agree that your spouse will no longer be accountable for the mortgage, the lender is unaffected by that decision. In other words, until and unless you refinance in your own name alone, the mortgage lender can still pursue your spouse for repayment.

    Can one spouse be on the mortgage but both on the title?

    There is no legal requirement that both partners be listed on a mortgage. Your lender will typically exclude your spouse’s information when determining your eligibility for a loan if they aren’t listed as a co-borrower on your mortgage application. This could either be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your spouse’s circumstance.

    What does it mean if your name is on the deed but not the mortgage?

    If your name appears on the deed but not the mortgage, you are still the owner of the property but are exempt from responsibility for the mortgage loan and any associated payments. Even though only one spouse is listed on the mortgage, the lender may still foreclose on the house if you fall behind on your payments.

    How is a house with a mortgage divided in divorce?

    The house can be handled in one of three ways: sell it and divide the proceeds In order to exclude the other from the loan, one ex-spouse keeps the house and refinances the mortgage. Both former spouses keep the house temporarily.