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Homestead – What Does Hold Harmless Mean?

In many dissolution cases, it often needs to be decided who, if anyone, wants the marital homestead and if someone does, what happens to the mortgage?

Generally speaking, it is common practice to have the person awarded the homestead to assume the mortgage and hold the other party “harmless.” This means that the person taking on the mortgage is to indemnify the other party from liability and hardship of the mortgage.

A recent appellate case came down from the Minnesota Court of Appeals that further clarified what hold harmless truly means. The Court found that in a case where Wife had been awarded the homestead and was failing to pay the mortgage and other homestead bills, the remedy of Husband to sell the homestead as she was failing to hold him “harmless”, was not available to the Court. The Court found that a proper remedy would be a monetary judgment. In re the Marriage of Johnson v. Johnson, A16-1323. Since the option of selling the homestead was not mentioned in the parties Judgment and Decree finalizing their divorce, the remedy of selling the homestead was not available to Husband.

When you are looking into the future after a dissolution, it is hard to imagine or predict everything that may happen. However, if you have any doubt as to whether your future ex-spouse would follow through or be able to pay the mortgage, this is an issue that must be addressed with your attorney to make sure all remedies are available to you in the future.

If you have questions related to a possible dissolution of marriage, child custody questions, or parenting time concerns, please do not hesitate to contact our office (952) 224-9410.