Legal Question in Real Estate Law in Washington

My ex husband purchased a home as a single man in 2003. We married in 2005 and we refinanced his home (I didnt sign a quit claim deed) with a different lending company (bank). So, now Im on papers saying I refinanced a home--- for home that I dont own! The papers (proof) are here with me. What do I do? No one made sure I owned the home before we refinanced--no paperwork was done, such as a quitclaim deed. How do proceed.? I would like to not be obligated to pay a loan back on a house I dont own. He is trying hard to refi on his own but with todays market, he cannot qualify to refi his home on his own. What should I do? I would like to not own the home and I would like to not be on any refi papers. He agrees, but we dont know what to do. The bank doesnt know what to do either.

Asked on 8/06/09, 9:28 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Amir John Showrai The Pacific Law Firm, PLLC
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In effect, when your husband refinanced his home, he gifted you one half of the equity and you in turn became responsible for the mortgage. I am going to assume from your question that you are somewhere along the line in a dissolution of your marriage because I am not sure why this would otherwise be such a big deal.

If that is the case, your options are as follows. 1) Sell the home, thereby relieving you of any obligation for the loan. 2) Allow your husband a period of years to pass, during which he would agree to pay the mortgage and do so on time, and after whatever set period of years you agree upon, he must refinance into his own name by that date or list the home for sale at fair market value. 3) Do nothing and remain in the home as you are now, if you are a happily married couple.

If you are in dissolution proceedings, unless there is something to refute it, I'd say you are entitled to one half the equity in the home, if there is any. You can use that as a bargaining chip in your dissolution, such as to allow him time to refinance for a greater share of the home's value. Meaning, when he finally does refinance, he'll have to pay you more than half the current value.

Good luck!

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8/11/09, 9:41 pm
Earl Morriss Land Law Washington, PLLC
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I would have to disagree with the answer above - people sign on to Deeds of Trust all the time without gaining any ownership interest in the house. Your husband purchased the home as his seperate property prior to your marriage and thus it came into the marriage as his seperate property - and the presumption is that it remained his seperate property. When people intend to gift seperate property they usually sign community property agreements or he would have signed a Quit Claim deed from him to he and you - the community - if the intention was to gift you half the house. In other words...the presumption made in the previous answer is highly unlikely to be true. You should assume that the situation is that you are liable under the Deed of Trust (which is a mortgage document, not an instument of conveyance) and that you have a very limited fee interest in the house. Since you call him your ex-husband I have to assume that there was a marriage dissolution...the house should have been handles in that action...if it was not, you neeed to go back and modify the dissolution. That is the way to take care of this in a legal fashion - but, be aware, even that will not take you off the Deed of Trust (the court can not do that). You need to come to an agreement where the property is sold if it can not be refinanced in just his name.

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8/12/09, 12:34 pm

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