Can I force the sale of a house if I’m on the deed of but not the mortgage?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I force the sale of a house if I’m on the deed of but not the mortgage?

We divorced 11 years ago and the home was supposed to be sold; I was to be awarded money from the sale. However, it went into foreclosure and therefore never sold. I see that it is not on the market anymore. I just received some insurance papers that need my signature. I cannot find my ex to ask what this is for and am not comfortable putting my signature on it. After all this time, can I force the sale and try to recover the money that I was supposed to get? Do note that several years ago my ex got a new mortgage without me and at that time I said I would sign a quitclaim deed and give him the property. That never happened as I had no money to do it and my ex would not talk to me.

Asked on January 27, 2019 under Real Estate Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can force the sale: when two owners (people on the deed/title) of a home disagree about what is to be done with it, the law's recourse is what is traditionally called an "action for partition": a law to force the home's sale. Being on the mortgage or not is irrelevant to your right to do this: it is ownership, not obligation for the loan, which matters. You can get a court order that the home be sold and the proceeds, after paying the cost of sale and paying off the mortgage, be divided among the owners, either in proporation to their ownership (e.g. 50-50) or as per a court order (e.g. from your divorce). To explore this option, consult with an attorney.

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