Question asked on Oct 03rd, 2014

Q: She moved into the rental when she filed for divorce. She lost her job during the divorce. They have an offer on the house, her ex wants to accept it. If they accept the offer they still owe $6K in closing costs. She would rather stay in the rental and take over his 1/2 of the mortgage. He wants her to reduce her settlement by $5K in order to do that. Is this fair?

A: “Fair” — like “pretty” or “pornography” — is usually in the eye of the beholder, not an objective reference.  If your sister wants to alter the terms of the divorce, it will be her burden to find a way to not harm her ex in doing so — probably by re-financing the property.  Lots of folks took upside down houses hoping and waiting for the market to come back — which it has.  She might be able to make the house irrelevant to him.  As to his risks, and ability to buy in the future, mortgage regs say that if she is required to make the payments, and actually has done so for a year, the house mortgage for the home she is in should not prevent him from qualifying for his own mortgage.  If this gets too complicated, you may need the assistance of a family law specialist to make the proper orders actually happen.

Marshal S. Willick