In 1935 you could mortgage the Boardwalk for $200. The Monopoly property, not Virginia Beach’s. That $200 was the highest on the board, with classy Park Place coming in at only $175. (Poor Baltic Avenue; it was only worth $30.) If you seek a Virginia legal separation today, who covers the mortgage? And can you pay with Monopoly money? (Umm … no, you cannot — editor)
Who Signed the Mortgage?
Suppose you hold a 30-year mortgage on a lovely property in Morattico in Lancaster County (a lovely riverside crossroads “consisting of a post office, two churches, the Morattico Waterfront Museum, an active, though diminishing, fleet of fishing vessels, and scores of dwellings of its residents,” according to the Morattico Waterfront Museum). Your Morattico mortgage may have a few years left on it when you and your wife decide to legally separate.
If you both signed the Morattico mansion’s mortgage, you are both responsible for paying off that lovely little Morattico mansion along the banks of the mighty Rappahannock River. Your Morattico mansion’s mortgage must be paid on time, no matter the physical living arrangements you and your wife currently have. If you do not pay, both your credit ratings will be affected.
If, by chance, you alone signed the Morattico mansion’s mortgage, you are on the hook, financially. If you fail to pay your magnificent Morattico mansion’s mortgage, your credit rating, not your soon-to-be ex-wife’s, suffers.
If (conveniently) she alone signed, then the little missus must meet the magnificent Morattico mansion’s monthly mortgage payments. (How long do you think we can keep this alliteration alive?) You are off the hook, and your credit rating is unaffected.
Mortgages & Property Settlement
Virginia does not recognize a marital separation unto itself. Either you are married or divorced, according to the Code of Virginia; a Virginia court does not grant legal separations. You can enter into a legal separation agreement yourself, though, and part of your separation should include a property settlement agreement. In that agreement, every debt obligation needs to be spelled out. Who pays the mortgage, light bill, or slip rental at the Morattico docks? Who pays for the post office box, the annual membership in the Morattico Waterfront Museum, and annual service on your Morattico mansion’s central air conditioner?
Some of this may sound trivial, but you need to spell out as much as you two can agree on, since credit ratings are slow to build and easy to crumble.
Making it Work
Say you agree to move out of your magnificent Morattico mansion so your wife Moira and your two adorable kids, Molly and Mordecai, can continue to live there during your separation. Both your names are on the mortgage. You agree to send Moira half the money for the monthly mortgage, and she sends in the check.
You and Moira need to make the arrangement work, so neither of your credit ratings are harmed. She will need good credit after your divorce (assuming that is where the separation is headed) so she can resettle, and you will need good credit to downsize into a more suitable home.
Part of your property settlement agreement can include a way to verify that Moira is making the monthly mortgage payments. Perhaps she sends you copies of bank statements indicating the account is current; perhaps you share online access. Both of you need to realize that financial obligations are not weapons to use against each other, because you will both pay a high price in trying to inflict emotional or financial damage on the other.
Foreclosure, Credit Sabotage & Legal Limbo
If you are thinking that, perhaps, you will deliberately stop paying the mortgage, you have all the guiles of a comic book villain. Trashing your credit rating, sending your home into foreclosure, and forcing your wife to vacate the property are not wise ways to resolve marital conflicts.
If you have not yet signed a property settlement agreement or separation agreement with your wife, you may face a few months of legal limbo during which neither of you communicates clearly about your joint financial responsibilities. Being a month late with a mortgage payment is not nearly as bad as being six or more months late, so even if one month slips by while you two verbally tussle, you both need to catch up and keep the mortgage payments current.
Disposal of Mortgaged Property after Divorce
Getting a separation agreement or property settlement agreement done right depends on the skills of attorneys. You and your wife may be struggling to deal with other calmly and rationally during the separation, so coming together to agree on vital financial problems could be extremely hard.
You will generally not save any money by attempting to “do it yourself” with any legal paperwork between the two of you. You are better off now, during the separation, and later during a divorce proceeding, if you engage an attorney to help you iron out every issue, including the mortgage.
Done right, the separation agreement can include information about the ultimate disposal of the mortgaged property. You two may agree that neither of you remains in the house after the divorce, selling it to divide any proceeds equally. You may agree one of you will buy the other property owner out, so she pays you and still has a place for herself and your kids.
Contact the Separation Agreement Lawyers for Men
Your life is truly not a Monopoly game, and no mortgage in Virginia goes for just $200. Protect yourself, protect your credit rating, and protect your property by getting a separation agreement through an attorney. Whether you truly are in a magnificent Morattico mansion or a very nice Virginia Beach bungalow, contact The Firm for Men at 757-383-9184, or contact us online, today.