military coupleThere is no question that the VA loan program is an excellent benefit to veterans and service members looking to buy a home or refinance their existing one. It enables them to buy a home with no down payment, much lower interest rates and no mortgage insurance.

However, many service members have questions about including their civilian spouses in the process of getting their VA loan. Here are the top three things that all spouses – and service members – should know about VA loan benefits.

Qualifying Income
More often than not, you’ll find that with most military couples, one partner is a service member while the other is a civilian. Sometimes, these couples assume that the civilian’s income or financial standing could be a problem or not count toward qualifying for a VA loan. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the civilian spouse’s income could actually help! If the civilian’s income is substantial, it could potentially help the service member qualify for a larger loan.

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) allows spouses to cosign for loans. In this case, you could use the civilian spouse’s income with the military spouse’s eligibility for the VA loan. However, it’s important to remember that the VA loan is no different from any other loan when it comes to your debt-to-income ratio and credit history. If your civilian spouse makes more but has a poor credit rating, that could hurt your chances of qualifying for a loan, regardless of your military standing.

Surviving Spouse Eligibility

Prior to the signing of the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act in 2012, only spouses of those who had died of military-related causes were allowed to apply for VA loan benefits. Today, those benefits have been extended for surviving spouses.

These kinds of surviving spouses can apply for a VA loan:

  • A non-remarried surviving spouse of a veteran or service member who died in service or from a service-related disability
  • A spouse of a service member who was missing in action or a prisoner of war for last least 90 days
  • A surviving spouse of a veteran who was rated totally disabled and was eligible for disability compensation at the time of death from any cause


This is possibly the most complex issue when it comes to civilian spouses and VA loans. If you are an ex-spouse of a service member, you are not eligible for a new VA loan in the same way a surviving spouse would be. That’s pretty straightforward.

It can get complicated when divorce is involved after you have a VA loan together. The VA has very strict occupancy requirements on who can and cannot live in a home purchased using a VA loan. However, if the civilian spouse is a cosigner, they are eligible to remain in the home without the service member living there. The issue arises when it comes to entitlement. The service member cannot restore their entitlement unless their ex-spouse refinances and/or pays off the VA loan in full.

It’s important to keep in mind, whether you’re a current spouse, surviving spouse or ex-spouse, that every situation is different and complex. Be sure to talk to a Home Loan Expert who specializes in VA loans so they can walk you through your unique situation.

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This Post Has 116 Comments

  1. My estranged wife and I divorced and I was ordered by a Virginia judge (I didn’t know they could order me out of my home) to move out by a certain date and she would have a year to refinance. I moved out but 3 years later she has not refinanced and I don’t see it written on any of the court documents ordering her to. What can I do? Also she isn’t living in the house anymore she is renting it to her relatives.

    1. Hi B.Lee:

      This sounds more like a legal matter than a mortgage matter, so your best route would be to speak with your lawyer to see what your options are with the home. You might need to obtain a copy of your marital settlement agreement as well as a property settlement agreement to determine what can be done. I hesitate to provide any further information because I’m not a lawyer and cannot speak to your specific situation. I hope this helps, though!

  2. Can I apply as single on Va Loan if my Spouse and I are separated and dont speak and add her to the deed later if I want to sale the home

    1. Hi James:

      Title requirements vary based on the state you are in. She also may have to sign your mortgage documents as long as you’re married. That said, she may be able to sign something giving up her marital rights to any property you buy. It all depends on state requirements. If you in the process of divorce or separated, but it’s not yet finalized, you would still be married for the purposes of mortgage application. I recommend speaking with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716 to go over the details of your situation.

  3. I am separated from my husband and my income alone qualifies me for a VA loan but my husband will not sign a waiver of homestead, can I purchase a home an quick claim it to my brother and still live in the home would this be legal?

    1. Hi Antoinette Marie:

      Thank you for your service! I’m going to recommend you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. Questions of title and mortgage rights are heavily dependent on what state you’re in, and I want to make sure you get the right information. Thanks for reaching out and have a great night!

  4. Help🤔my wife n I had a va loan together; both of our names are on the deed(‘we both are veterans:we divorced, n I quitclaim the house to her; yet the va still holds me responsible;’what can I do please please

    1. You would still have to have her refinance in order to get your name off the loan. Typically in the divorce, you would both negotiate that she has a certain amount of time to get that done. That’s the best I can tell you. Thank you for your service!

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