Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C.
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My spouse left me, why do I now have to pay the mortgage?


If you are getting a divorce in Pennsylvania, oftentimes the court will require the occupant of the marital home to pay the mortgage. It does not matter whose name is on the mortgage. The theory behind requiring the occupant to pay the mortgage is that only that person is receiving a benefit for use of the home. Consider it fair rental value. The court will normally impose a support obligation on the spouse to pay you if they earn more and you have been married for at least a few years. If you have children with your spouse, you can seek a mortgage contribution as part of child support if they children remain the home with you. The mortgage contribution, however, is never going to be equal to the mortgage, nor is it even half of the mortgage. In some cases, you will not even get a mortgage contribution if your income and the child support amount do not mathematically warrant it. It is also in the discretion of the Judge whether to even award it. If you cannot afford to pay the mortgage between the income you have and the support you receive from your spouse, it may be time to consider selling the home. If you fail to pay the mortgage while living in the house during a divorce, the Court can intervene and order it sold. It is a good idea if you are separating to consult an attorney who can assist you by figuring out approximately how much you can expect to receive. This not only helps in deciding if you can afford to stay in your home during a divorce but will also help you decide how much you can afford to live elsewhere if you have to move. The attorney can also provide you with the documented expectation of support in order to help you secure a rental if your income does not support it alone. 

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