Lesson 49: Don’t Forget the House Payment
From the Divorce section of How You Can Avoid Legal Land Mines by Joseph S. Lyles (2003).
Barbara separated from her husband when he left the marital home. She later discovered that several months before he left, he stopped making the mortgage payments. And after he left, he managed to keep the foreclosure notices from being received by her. Then the house burned to the ground.
The fire insurance company that carried the fire insurance on the home began an investigation of her claim. It discovered that the home had been foreclosed upon and the court had issued an order that transferred the title of the home to the mortgage company.
Because my client was no longer the legal title-holder to the real estate, she could not pursue the fire insurance claim. As her attorney, I tried to get the court to reopen the foreclosure case, but it refused. Her divorce was already final at that point, so she was at a dead end.
The Lesson: Always keep track of the status of your mortgage and other important payments, especially if you separate from your spouse.