When Can An Ex-Spouse Claim More Equity In A Property Than What A Divorce Decree Initially Provides?

This question comes from Emilio, out of Shelby Township, who asks: “My wife and I were divorced in 2013. My wife was awarded the home in the divorce if she refinanced my interest off the home with me within two years after the divorce. The divorce decree does not address if I am responsible for maintaining the home. However, whenever the home does sell, I am entitled to 50% of the equity.”

Emilio goes on to ask, “my ex-wife never paid on the mortgage, let alone try to refinance the home. I had to reinstate the mortgage so she would not lose the home. I also ended up putting a new roof on the home three years after the divorce.”

“Now she is selling the house and there is quite a bit of equity in the home. According to the divorce decree, am I entitled to receive more than just the 50% of the equity. Am I not allowed to be reimbursed for the repayment on the mortgage? Am I entitled to be reimbursed for the repair and maintenance of the roof?”

Good question Emilio.

Even though I am not a divorce attorney, very often I am called on to get involved with parties concerning property disputes – usually relating to a home, long after the divorce decree has been issued. Your problem is more common than you think.

In your case, first look to the divorce decree regarding the property settlement to determine each party’s responsibilities. If, as you say, your ex-spouse has failed to refinance, has failed to maintain the mortgage payments, and has failed to keep the property in good condition, you can contest the amount of proceeds each party is entitled to.

First, you should have all of your receipts for advancing payments on her behalf. You should also have the invoices and canceled checks for the roof repair.

You should be fully reimbursed for those advances made by you to reinstate the mortgage since you were not required under the divorce decree to pay on the mortgage.

As for the roof repair, I believe that you will only be entitled to be reimbursed for half of the roof expense. This is because the divorce decree does not address who is responsible for maintaining the home. And since the sales price is usually directly related to the overall condition of the home, both you and your ex-wife benefit from the roof’s condition and so you would only be entitled to 1/2 of the repair expenses.

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