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Separated, but with a home

Question: First of all, I LOVE your show!!! My question requires a little bit of background so please allow me to start from the beginning.

Back in 2004, my husband and I each bought a house. In 2006 (yes, the high of the house market in Florida!), we bought another house together for $360K. To help with the down payment for this new house, we took out a loan from his house in the amount of $50K.

Fast forward to today, we're separated. The joint house would worth $260K or so if we were selling it. When I moved out two years ago, I asked my husband sell the house, but he chose to keep it and has pay for it himself since.

Right now, my name is still on both the house and the loan. I don't know what the "fair" thing to do. We hope that eventually the market would bounce back up, and the house would still be a good investment to keep. Right now, I have no credit to get myself anything else, and no extra cash to "buy myself out". I don't even know if I have to buy myself out, since I did put a good amount of money as part of the closing costs, down payment, and mortgage for the two years.

Any advice from you is greatly appreciated. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE HELP!!! Thuha, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Answer: Thanks for your kind remarks. I'm glad the show is helpful. I wish I had a series of helpful suggestions for you. But I have only one: Get a good lawyer. I don't know if you and your husband will reconcile, divorce, or stick with separation for now, but you need a professional to advise you on your rights and risks with this home. And, of course, there are other financial issues and entanglements you'll want to figure out duirng this tough time for you. You can then make an informed decision about what's best for you after consulting with a professional.

About the author

Chris Farrell is the economics editor of Marketplace Money.

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