That answer to your question regarding the house is yes. While it is not the preferred method, there are certain circumstances that require that the parties retain the house as joint tenants after the divorce is finalized. Should you choose this course of action please make sure to speak with an attorney who handles these matters to discuss your rationale and to learn what is necessary to protect your interest in the residence.
This information is being provided as a general response to your posted question. By providing this response our office is not creating or entering into a lawyer-client relationship with you or anyone who may review this response. In order to enter into a lawyer-client relationship an initial consultation is required.
Most couples end up with debt, at least a mortgage, when going through a divorce. Typically, the debts will be assigned to a party in the final decree, but you will need to make sure to have the real estate documents prepared and signed addressing who keeps title to the house, what happens when it is sold, and who is responsible on the mortgage. Remember that the mortgage company will generally not simply release one party from the note without the home being sold or refinanced.
I agree with Attorney Erickson but want to expand on her answer a bit. The person who signed onto the debt is still liable for the debt, even after a divorce. If the judge decides that the spouse who did not sign onto the debt is liable to pay it off, they enter that in a court order and order that person to pay the debt.
If that person still refuses to pay the debt, the other spouse can sue for contempt of court to try to get that payment enforced.
Houses generally get refinanced in a divorce to get the non-possessory person's name off the title-- this is usually paired with a special warranty deed giving up all interest.
I agree with the other attorney's who have responded to this questions. This is a common issue, especially now with real estate prices down which has caused many properties to be valued less than the amount owed. You need to be sure the documentation is done correctly regarding transferring title and securing the debt by a deed of trust to secure assumption. Often, there is language in the decree that required the person keeping the house to refinance to remove the other person's name from the loan or to sell the property within a certai period of time.
The information provided in this response is based on the limited information provided by you and is intended only as general information for you to consider. In order to provide the legal options available to you, more factual information is needed regarding your specific situation.