Clarksville, TN asked in Bankruptcy for Tennessee

Q: Ex-BF filing for bankruptcy; he's on the mortgage, we're both on the deed. What happens? What are my rights?

BF (now ex) and I bought a house together in Texas. Deed is in both our names but he's the only one on the mortgage; property is homesteaded, neither of us owns any other real estate. Since he earned 10x what I did, he paid the mortgage - until a year and a half ago when he sort of went out for cigarettes (to Oklahoma) and never came back. I've been paying the mortgage ever since. I found a tenant and in 10/2020 I moved in with my son in TN. Tenant pays me rent equal to mortgage + taxes +insurance, I pay all that out of my own bank acct.

Ex is now making noises about filing for bankruptcy protection (he racked up a ton of CC and other loan debt) and says he is going to put the house on his list.

Can he do this even though I'm on the deed?

Do I have a creditor's claim for the money I've paid out on his mortgage debt?

Do I have a claim to any share of the equity in the house?

Do I need to get an atty in TX to pursue any of this?

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2 Lawyer Answers
W. J. Winterstein Jr.
W. J. Winterstein Jr.
  • Bankruptcy Lawyer
  • Boyertown, PA

A: (I practiced law for 15 years in Oklahoma City, but I've been practicing here in PA since '89)

The result of his bankruptcy filing on your interests will depend, in part, upon whether your ex files in TX or OK.

In OK, a joint owner has a right to seek contribution for another co-owner for necessary outlays, e.g., taxes, mortgage installments) related to the real property. In your case, that may be a double-edged sword. The rentals you've received for the property may be in part a claim he (and the bankruptcy trustee in his shoes) has against you.

You don't say what Chapter of bankruptcy he may choose (7 or 13), and that choice will also have an impact on your rights, and so will his choices about exempting the property, retaining it or surrendering it, etc.

As a joint owner of the house, you should certainly have a claim to an equal share of any equity value. If he files a Ch 7 case and there is equity value in the house, the bankruptcy trustee may move to sell the house to capture half the equity value. The contributions of each of you and the ex, further adjusted by the rentals received, may all be adjustments to the values that get divided between you two.

I strongly recommend that you consult a lawyer in whichever state he chooses to file his bankruptcy case.

Timothy Denison agrees with this answer

David Luther Woodward
David Luther Woodward
  • Bankruptcy Lawyer
  • Pensacola, FL

A: The answer to "do you need a Texas lawyer?", the answer is yes.

It is difficult to give you an opinion on anything having to with the title to land without reviewing the documents of title, and perhaps the chain, but he is required by law to list all of his assets and all his obligations. If he owns a 1/2 interest in the house, he has to list it. If he owes on the note (not necessarily the mortgage--the note) he has to list that as an obligation.

To protect your interests you need a lawyer before he goes to the court house.

Good Luck.


Timothy Denison agrees with this answer

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