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A short sale is an alternative to foreclosure if you have fallen behind on payments on your home. In the instance of a short sale the lender allows the home to be sold for less than what is owed on the mortgage. This is because it is usually less of a loss for the lender to allow a short sale than to let the home go into foreclosure. Foreclosure is when the lender repossesses the home due to failure to pay the mortgage. The lender often stands to lose even more money in providing for the upkeep of the home on a monthly basis and paying the taxes in a foreclosure situation. Another benefit of a short sale is that it is usually less damaging to the credit of the seller as compared to a foreclosure. A seller should try to negotiate with the lender to minimize damage to their credit rating as part of the sale agreement.

To be eligible for a short sale, the seller must be behind on payments due to financial hardship. Proof of this hardship must be established by supplying tax returns, pay stubs, bank statements and list of monthly expenses. A short sale is not likely to occur if the seller is already in bankruptcy as a short sale is considered a prohibited collection activity. The short sale process can move quickly if it is pre-approved by the lender for a certain amount. It is a good idea to work with a real estate agent or attorney to help negotiate the short sale process between the lender and potential buyer and ensure a timely sale. The short sale process can become complicated if there is more than one lender. Second mortgages or home equity lines can muddy the short sale process especially since secondary lenders stand to take the biggest loss on a short sale and all the lenders need to be in agreement with the terms for sale.

Many couples who have financial problems feel like they should still co-own assets after divorce. Maybe you are upside down on the mortgage on your home and you would lose money selling it.  Perhaps you have debt you still want to co-own or can not split for some reason.  Perhaps one of you wants out of the house but there is not enough cash to be bought out.

 

The problem with co-owning anything after your divorce is that you will no longer be married and co-ownership without that legal protection of marriage can be scary.  A good divorce attorney can help you brainstorm ways to ensure that your assets and debts are split in such a way that you each take your fair share and, most importantly, become financially independent of one another.  

 

You can learn a few things from this story:  A couple divorced after 15 years of marriage.  Upon the divorce they continued to co-own the marital home, an investment property, and a HELOC against the marital home.  With this much joint ownership after a divorce, there were bound to be problems.  


  1. They maintained the marital home and nested their children.  Each parent moved in and out according to their parenting agreement. They did this for the emotional security of their children.  However they didn’t have money to maintain the house and it fell into disrepair over the years, to the point that it could not be sold for market value.  


Lesson learned:  While nesting may seem like a great idea, it requires substantial financial resources to maintain the home for the children, particularly when neither of you are really still invested in the home.  Additionally each parent also needs a place to live when they are not with the children so you need the cash to maintain three homes.  


  1. The investment property was the primary responsibility of the ex-husband and after some time he tired of it.  He decided to sell it, forgetting it was in joint ownership.  Additionally he sold it “short sale” forgetting that the down payment was in the Heloc against the marital home.  Once it was sold he had a legal quagmire on his hands in violation of the divorce agreement and now there was no asset and yet a substantial debt to pay.  


Lesson learned:  After your divorce it is best not to jointly own any investment or debt. As former partners, it can be hard to reach an agreement on what should be done and one partner may feel they have more right to control or make decisions.  


3)  The ex-husband unexpectedly died. The HELOC was only in his name and his estate immediately went bankrupt.  Typically, debts are forgiven but since the house was securing the HELOC, the ex-wife had to start making the monthly payments or face a lien.  Furthermore, because the HELOC account was only in the ex-husband’s name, the ex-wife had no access to the account and the bank would not discuss any particulars of the loan with her.


Lesson learned:  If there is joint debt coming out of your divorce it is best to split that debt in some way and move on independently.  If you must co-own anything, ensure that, in your divorce agreement, you mandate life insurance be maintained specifically for the repayment of debt.


Divorce is not easy and many times finances are a factor in your reason to split. There is always a way around a difficult situation and we can help you creatively solve your financial issues so you can independently walk into your post divorce life.

 

A partition action is a legal proceeding to divide property amongst unmarried individuals that cannot agree what to do with the property. This may arise in a situation where two parties who were never married purchased a home together. It may also arise if real property is not properly dealt with at the time of the divorce action and the now divorced parties are still co-owners. Pennsylvania partition actions are governed by Rules 1551 – 1574 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. There are two options in a partition action. One option involves physically splitting the property, if possible. The alternative option, and more likely occurrence, involves the home being sold with the proceeds divided. As far as procedure, a complaint for partition should be brought in the county where the property is located and must include all co-tenants as parties.

The complaint must also include a description of the property along with each co-tenant’s interest in the property. Following the filing of the complaint and a court order on the partition, a court officer called a “master” is usually appointed to oversee the action. This usually includes an appraisal of the property to obtain an accurate value and setting up the sale of the property, be it private or public. The parties to the partition action are responsible for splitting all fees incurred during the partition proceeding as well as compensating the master. The parties can resolve at any time settle the matter amicably amongst themselves. Married couples should be sure to deal with real property issues at the time of divorce to avoid the potential for this additional proceeding down the road.

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A partition action is a legal proceeding to divide property amongst unmarried individuals that cannot agree what to do with the property. Pennsylvania partition actions are governed by Rules 1551 – 1574 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. There are generally only two options in a partition action. The parties can physically split the property, if possible. This is rarely a feasible option, particularly in the case of property with a structure on it, such as a home. Alternatively, the property is sold and the proceeds are divided. As far as procedure, a complaint for partition should be brought in the county where the property is located and must include all co-tenants as parties. The complaint must include a description of the property along with each co-tenant’s interest in the property.

Following the filing of the complaint and a court order on the partition, a master is appointed to the case. The master will set up an appraisal of the property to obtain an accurate value. Subsequently, the master will arrange for the sale of the property, be it private or public. The parties to the partition action are responsible for splitting all fees incurred during the partition proceeding including compensating the master. The parties do have the opportunity to resolve the partition action at any time and settle the matter amicably amongst themselves.

Click here to read more about real estate ownership.

If you are getting divorced and own a home, the value of the home is considered for purposes of equitable distribution. If the home was owned by you prior to the marriage and remained in your name alone, the increase in value of the home from the date of the marriage until the date of separation is considered marital. In this case, you should get two appraisals done on your house, one from the date of the marriage and one as of the date of separation.

If you received the home as an inheritance, you will need the values of the home as of the date of gift to you and as of the date of separation if you kept the home in separate names. Since inherited assets are non-marital, as long as they are kept separate, only the increase in value of the asset from the date received to the date of separation is considered. You again will need two appraisals to reflect these dates.

If, however, you own a home that was purchased during the marriage, you will want to delay getting the house appraised until you are either ready to sign an agreement or go to a divorce hearing. In Pennsylvania, the Court values the home as of the date of distribution so by getting an appraisal close to the date of your divorce hearing gives the most accurate value. If you get the house appraised too early, you may end up having to pay to have it appraised again.

If you own a home that was premarital or inherited, but you added your spouse’s name to the deed, you will want to get an appraisal at the time you married or received the asset, at the time you gifted it to the marriage and at the time of distribution.

When you get your house appraised, you may want to also consider whether you need to also get a fair rental value of the house included in the appraisal. If the house has no mortgage or a very low mortgage and you are not living in the house, you should get the fair rental of the house established in your appraisal so that you can make a claim for this value in equitable distribution.

It is also important to remember that you do not need an appraisal done if both you and your spouse are able to agree to the value of the home. You may also want to use a Comparative Sales Analysis in an effort to come to an agreed price.

If you are having trouble getting access to the home to have it appraised, there are remedies and you can file Special Relief with the Court in divorce in order to gain access for purposes of an appraisal. In that instance, you should consult with an attorney.

For more information see:/Family-Law-Divorce/Division-of-Marital-Property/

A Partition Action is the type of legal proceeding needed to divide property amongst unmarried individuals that cannot agree what to do with the property. There are two options in a partition action. One option involves physically splitting the property, if possible. The alternative option, and more likely occurrence, involves the home being sold with the proceeds divided. As far as procedure, a complaint for partition should be brought in the county where the property is located and must include all co-tenants as parties. The complaint must also include a description of the property along with each co-tenant’s interest in the property.

Following the filing of the complaint and a court order on the partition, a court officer called a “master” is usually appointed to oversee the action. This usually includes an appraisal of the property to obtain an accurate value and setting up the sale of the property, be it private or public. The parties to the partition action are responsible for splitting all fees incurred during the partition proceeding as well as compensating the master. The parties can resolve at any time to settle the matter amicably amongst themselves.

Click here to read about division of marital property.