I live in New York State, and after seven years of marriage, I am now seriously contemplating divorce. I understand that I can file for a legal separation and, should things improve with my estranged spouse, we can get back together without remarrying. We currently jointly own (finance) home, and I am unclear as to my financial obligations (my name is on the mortgage) during the period of separation. If I do not make payments during the period we are not together, is that considered abandonment? Do I lose any financial rights to my home? Please advise.
Filing for legal separation will not impact your obligation to continue to pay on the mortgage. The bank will not let you off the mortgage simply because you are now separated. If you or your wife fail to make the payments when due, the bank will foreclose on the property. If your wife continues to pay the mortgage without your participation to avoid default, and she subsequently files for divorce, she will ask the court to grant her a more substantial portion of the marital estate to cover the expense she extended on your behalf.
The best thing to do is to enter into a mediated Separation Agreement in which the payment of the mortgage will be provided for between both of you, and you will not be in default and lose your marital equity in the house.
If you are living in the New York City metropolitan area, please call me at 212-370-1660 to arrange for a meeting to discuss the matter at greater length.
Leonard M. Weiner, Esq./Divorce Solutions