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Liens, mortgages and property division

New York couples divorce for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is financial concerns. What happens when one spouse is burdened by financial issues, however, thanks to a previous failed relationship? If your ex-spouse has suffered from money woes since before you met, those financial problems could follow you through the property division phase of your own divorce. In one case, a family is struggling to overcome financial barriers related to a lien that was placed on a house that was co-owned by a woman and her ex-husband.

The woman in the situation is suffering because her ex-husband failed to comply with previous child support and alimony payments from his first marriage. As a consequence, a lien was placed on his home, which is shared with his second wife. In most cases, mortgages or liens against properties stay with the property, not the person who bought it. As a result, it is conceivable that the house will remain categorized as loan collateral even if the man's name is removed from the title. Liens are generally only released after payment is remitted. In this specific situation, it may benefit the woman to contact child-support enforcement authorities to receive assistance in collecting the financial debts that have caused the lien to be enacted in the first place.

It is important to remember that governments have the ability to collect child support funds by intercepting tax refunds, garnishing wages, and even spending professional licenses. Further, governments may seize and sell personal property, which could include real estate holdings. To avoid this outcome, the woman in this case could consider refinancing a mortgage, which might result in the lien's release.

Ultimately, such property division matters are best addressed by qualified legal representatives, who can help property owners who have gone through a divorce learn more about their legal rights and responsibilities. This is a complex property division matter that requires the intervention of a qualified attorney and financial planning team.

Source: Fox Business, "Will Divorce Release You From Home Lien?" Steve Bucci, Jan. 09, 2014

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