7
  • Per the divorce agreement, my name stays (jointly) on the mortgage, but my ex-wife is responsible for making all mortgage payments
  • She missed two payments this spring, triggering a negative credit report. (She has since caught up.)
  • Can I appeal the negative credit report(s) on the grounds she is legally responsible for payments?

I do understand that, as joint mortgage holder, I'm jointly responsible should the mortgage go delinquent; if she stops paying, they can come after me for the money. But where she's legally solely responsible for making payments, can I make a case to the credit bureaus that the missed payment penalty should not apply to me?

There seems to be some precedent; I recently obtained a mortgage for my own house, and was told that new rules allow the mortgage companies to account for pre-existing joint mortgages differently if there's a legal document obliging the ex-spouse to make payments on the joint mortgage.

  • 1
    Would you rather lend money to someone who is a collateral on a debt that recently missed a few payment, or one without any missed payments. It only makes sense that your credit score is impacted. – Antzi Jun 14 at 5:19
  • @Antzi would you rather a legal system that can assign responsibility for debt, or one in which such an assignment is meaningless? I'm pretty sure which side the lenders fall on that question when pursuing their own interests. – gowenfawr Jun 14 at 12:16
10

Nope. I don't mean to dis a professional (your lawyer), but s/he created a situation in which this was an inevitable result. In hindsight, if I were forced into such an agreement, i.e. stuck on the mortgage, I'd rather be making the payments, and have the burden of collection from my ex, or deduct it from the child care payments or alimony. That would be a pain, but would at least avoid trashing my credit score.

That said, there's no harm in asking. I'd move forward with that plan. Get your info together and send it registered mail to appeal.

  • 2
    Such an agreement appears to be normal in Massachusetts. It's not a good state to get divorced in. – gowenfawr Jun 13 at 13:50
  • Sorry to hear this, I am in MA as well. I hope you sent the appeals and visit to let us know the results. Good luck. – JoeTaxpayer Jun 13 at 13:52
4

Ultimately, the credit bureau is scoring based on the data they have. It sounds like you're being reported in a method that indicates you are responsible for the payments, even though you're not. Although you can (and probably should) use their appeals process to ask them to correct this ding, you may want to take an additional step: Consider working directly with your financial institution (or having your lawyer do so) to get them to change the way they're reporting the loan to the bureaus. This would result in a permanent fix, in the sense that if she's delinquent again in the future, you don't have to appeal again.

Financial institutions have an array of options when reporting a consumer's relationship to a specific debt. There may be some important nuance based on factors we don't have in this question (i.e. the exact wording in your divorce, or state law, etc) but your bank may be able to report you in a way that more accurately reflects your divorce agreement. At the very least, it's worth the effort to ask.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.