Dear Amy: My ex-husband and I divorced in 2016. We are both in our 70s and retired. We still co-own our beautiful family home. Since 2020, my ex and I have been living in the home (in separate apartments).
My ex and I have significant equity in the home. Our divorce agreement says that we are each responsible for 50 percent of the house expenses. I have been paying more to cover house expenses than my ex can afford to pay.
He says I will be paid back if we sell the house. Our divorce agreement says either one of us can call for the house to be sold, and so far, neither of us have wanted to sell. We would like to leave the house to our son, but rising taxes might make it unaffordable to continue living here in the coming years.
My ex also owns a condo and has had a 10-year struggle with the condo association, resulting in the condo remaining vacant and significant debts accumulating.
I’m considering getting a reverse mortgage on our home to help my ex with his financial difficulties. Our son is against this idea and is unwilling to co-sign a home-equity loan (on the condo or our home) to help my ex settle his debts.
Our retirement incomes are so low that the only kind of loan we could get without a co-signer would be a reverse mortgage.
This situation is stressful for all of us. I have hired a financial adviser and will be getting her advice soon.
Any thoughts on how to move ahead peacefully and also solvent?
— Peaceful Ex
Dear Peaceful: You are wise to enlist the help of a professional financial planner. (I have little expertise regarding complicated financial or real estate transactions.)
My take on this is that if you are to be reimbursed for expenses on your home, then keep careful track and get a signed agreement outlining the terms for reimbursement.
You should not get entangled in your ex's condo ownership, and you should NOT risk the equity on your home to bail him out. A reverse mortgage makes your debt grow, not shrink, merely kicking this problem into the future.
It boggles the mind that your ex-husband has held onto this vacant property for so long, but perhaps his dispute with the condo association has resulted in liens on the property. He should get out from under this property, in any way possible.
Double-check your financial and legal attachment to your ex's debt with the financial planner; bring your divorce decree and any related documents to the meeting.
Your son sounds very savvy and careful; he should accompany you as you discuss this with the professional.
Dear Amy: I’ve become aware that my neighbor has been leaving her 13-year-old at home alone while she goes to work on Saturdays. I’m concerned about this child and wonder if I should call CPS to report this parent for neglect?
— Concerned Neighbor
Dear Concerned: Thirteen-year-olds are capable of being home for a number of hours on their own. For many of us who were raised by single parents (or raised our children as single parents), this “latchkey” life is completely normal.
A few years ago, I became curious about the longer-term impact on children who had been left on their own at home after school while parents worked.
I asked a group of young-adults about this and they all claimed that they usually had a few chores they were expected to do, that their parent checked in regularly, and that they filled the rest of their time doing homework, watching TV and basically enjoying their independence.
Obviously, there are risks for anyone being alone in a house.
If you are truly concerned, you might offer this neighbor your phone number, in case their child has any emergency needs.
Dear Amy: Sometimes I laugh reading your responses to people. I wonder if you realize how inadvertently funny you can be?
Dear Chuckling: Sometimes when people disagree with my point of view, they will claim I’m being hilarious, but if I inject humor into a response, it is very much on purpose.
To answer your question, if I realized I was being inadvertently funny, then it wouldn't be inadvertent.
© 2023 by Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.
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