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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

Divorce

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 132 Comments

  1. As a veteran I previously used a VA loan and VA refinance on a home. My spouse then refinanced the home solely in her name with an FHA loan (with Quicken). Does that spouse-only FHA refinance allow me to restore my VA eligibility generally? And specifically, we are considering options such as a cash-out refinance to cover the cost of building a detached garage apartment on the property. Since the main house is still the one originally purchased with a VA loan and VA refinanced, would any VA loan entitlement restoration be ineligible if it was for the same property?
    Thank you

    1. The loan was paid off in full, your VA entitlement can be restored. It’s important to note this can only be done once, but I recommend speaking with a Home Loan Expert at (888) 980-6716 to go over your options. Have a wonderful night!

  2. I am a veteran and am separated from my wife. Can she get a VA loan without me on the mortgage/title if I agree to it? I would like to allow her to buy a house for her and my son.

    1. Hi Paul:

      Unfortunately, the only way for her to get a VA loan is for you to be on the loan with her because the entitlement is tied to you as the veteran. One possible option might be for you to buy the house and have her assume the loan later on which is permissible as long as the lender and servicer agree to it and there’s a bit of an approval process. However, the downside to this is that you as the veteran would never be able to get a VA loan again. I wish I could give you better news.

  3. Hello, would my mother qualify for and VA programs as a widow, she has never remarried. My father was in the Navy. He did not die while he was in service.

    1. Hi Christina:

      Unfortunately, to qualify for VA benefits as a widow, your mother must be a surviving spouse of someone who either died in service or as a result of a service-connected disability. The VA has very strict rules. However, that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t qualify for other loan options. She did speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. I’m sorry I can’t give you better news, but I hope this helps.

  4. Hi ,
    I am divorced to my wife and quit claim on my house in favor of her. My name is still in
    the mortgage . Can I remove my name from the mortgage if I want to? I have a va loan and
    my ex is not a veteran.

    1. Hi Eli:

      She would have to refi out of a VA loan. You could work with your divorce attorney to try to come up with a mutually agreeable deadline. That would be my recommendation.

  5. Divorced Civilian. Name not on the va loan. Quitdeed to me. Is the soldier, whose name is on the loan, able to take out any loans/equity against the property?

    1. Hi Momma:

      You can, but if he doesn’t allow you to assume the loan, you may have to refinance into something that’s not a VA loan. Either way, we can help talk you through all your options if you give one of our Home Loan Experts a call at (888) 980-6716. Hope this helps!

  6. My husband is a Veteran and currently unemployed. Would we be able to qualify for a VA loan based on my income even though I didn’t serve?

    1. Hi April:

      We thank you and your husband for your service. While he has to be on the loan as the veteran, you can be on the loan as well and use your income to qualify. I hope this helps! If you want to get started online, you can do so through Rocket Mortgage® or give one of our Home Loan Experts a call at (888) 980-6716. Thank you for reaching out and have a great day!

  7. I have an issue where I am trying to refinance my ex-husband off of the house. He signed a quitclaim and it has been recorded with the state. Our separation agreement states that upon Sale of the house, I (ex) provides half of monies made UP TO $25,000 (upon sale). I have given him back $19,200 from alimony over the last 3 years, I NOT Selling..I am just refinancing to get him off of the mortgage, and I have provided all documentation required (Divorce Decree, Separation Agreement, etc, bank statements showing I gave him money back – charging him less for alimony). The VA Underwriters are not accepting the Quitclaim. The Quitclaim has been filed/recorded as well. So I had my ex sent the Loan Office an email telling them that I am selling, not refinancing. He asked that they treat it as such. And if I were selling I would only owe him $5800. My attorney wrote to them stating that the separation agreements states on in “Sale” would that happen. They are now asking that my ex have the email printed, notarized, sent to me to sign and notarize, and only then will they accept my Refi.

    By law the signed/notarized/recorded quitclaim should be all that is required, but they are continuing to abuse their position, act as if they are attorneys, and make me feel like a criminal. The Title company’s lawyer has me sign the Quitclaim and filed it saying that these WF Underwriters are acting as if they are attorneys. So he and my divorce attorney are both in disbelief that they are doing this.

    I could go with a different bank and I am sure it would go swimmingly (all paperwork is done to include Quitclaim). However, now I am staying based on principal. They already have a $25,000 check cut for my ex without even speaking with me. It feels like I have a bias (scorned) underwriter assigned my loan. I definitely am keeping the paper trail on this, but would like for this to be corrected/rectified. I honestly never want to go VA again thanks to this experience. My ex is printing/notarizing/and sending me the email just in case, but I told him he shouldn’t have to. His email, and Quitclaim should be all they need. I feel like I am back in divorce court.

    How to I get these people removed from being able to be Veteran Affairs (VA) Underwriters? This is illegal and I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this.

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Rhiannon:

      I see that you’re working with us. I’m going to get this over to our client relations team to look into what’s going on here and see if we can move you forward. Thanks for reaching out!

  8. My husband died August 21 1918, he wA Veteran of Korea, his death was not service related, he had paid off several VA loans in the past.

    1. Good afternoon, Joyce:

      Unfortunately, the VA defines surviving spouse as being married to someone who passed away in the line of duty or after having sustained a service-connected disability. While you wouldn’t be able to get another VA loan, there may be other loan options that make sense for you depending on your goals. I recommend you speak with one of our Home Loan Experts at (888) 980-6716. Thanks for reaching out!

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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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