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How to Navigate the VA Loan Spousal Requirements

What Are The VA Loan Spouse Requirements:

The advantages of VA loans for those who are eligible veterans and service members are well-documented, offering the unique opportunity to secure a mortgage at reduced interest rates without the need for a down payment.

However, when it comes to involving a civilian spouse in the VA loan application process, there are additional factors to consider. It’s important to understand the requirements for spouses in the VA loan context before embarking on the search for a VA loan.

Is It Possible for a Service Member’s Spouse to Secure a VA Loan? 

Indeed, spouses of active duty or former service members can be eligible for a VA loan through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) either as a co-signer or a primary borrower. For surviving spouses, there’s the potential to obtain a VA loan independently. The VA home loan’s lower barriers to entry and no down payment requirement make this an attractive option.

Applying for a VA Loan Alongside a Civilian Spouse 

The inclusion of a military spouse as a co-signer on the mortgage means that their financial health, including income and credit score, will influence the loan’s terms. Therefore, a military spouse with a strong financial background can enhance the service member’s chances of securing a more substantial loan or more favorable interest rates. Conversely, a poor credit score from a military spouse could result in less favorable loan terms.

Thus, it is certainly feasible for a service member’s spouse to participate in a VA loan. However, it’s wise to review both your credit score and income prior to submitting your application. If your credit score is on the lower side, you may choose to wait before applying.

VA Loan Eligibility for Surviving Spouses 

The landscape for VA loan eligibility for surviving spouses underwent significant changes with the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012. Prior to this act, only those military spouses whose partners died due to military-related reasons could apply for a VA loan.

However, post-2012, the criteria were broadened to encompass surviving spouses under several conditions:

  • If your spouse was eligible for or had received Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
  • If your spouse passed away in service or from a service-connected disability, and you remarried at age 57 or later after December 31, 2003.
  • If your spouse was declared missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW) for at least 90 days. (This provision is for one-time use.)
  • If your spouse was officially deemed totally disabled for a certain period due to their service before dying from non-service-related causes.
  • If your spouse died while on active duty or from a service-connected issue, and you have not remarried since their passing.

Obtaining a Certificate of Eligibility as a Surviving Spouse 

Eligibility specifics for surviving spouses may differ depending on the VA loan type sought. To confirm your eligibility for a VA loan as a surviving spouse, you will need to secure a Certificate of Eligibility (COE).

This certificate confirms your status as a surviving spouse eligible for a VA loan, informing lenders of your qualification. You can request your COE online, or your lender might assist in obtaining it.

Impact of Divorce on VA Loans 

The VA loan program aims to facilitate homeownership for veterans, imposing strict occupancy requirements not commonly found in other mortgage types.

Ex-Spouses and New VA Loans 

It’s crucial to note that ex-spouses of service members do not qualify for a new VA loan, a straightforward rule. However, complexities arise if both you and your ex-spouse were co-borrowers on an existing VA loan.

Housing Options for Ex-Spouses 

Following a divorce, an ex-spouse can continue living in the property if they co-signed the loan. If they did not co-sign, staying in the home is only possible through assuming the current mortgage or refinancing.

Entitlement Considerations for Ex-Spouses 

Should the ex-spouse retain the home and its mortgage, this situation affects the service member’s entitlement. The service member’s entitlement cannot be restored until the ex-spouse refinances the mortgage or repays the existing VA loan in full.

Navigating post-divorce financial matters is challenging, especially with the added intricacies of a VA loan.

Understanding VA Loan Spouse Requirements: Common Questions

Are you seeking clarity on the spouse requirements for a VA loan? Let’s delve into some of the most common inquiries regarding this topic.

Is it necessary for my spouse to be included in my VA loan? While your spouse is not required to be part of your VA loan as a veteran or service member, including them as a co-borrower might enhance the loan amount you’re eligible for.

How does my spouse’s credit score influence my VA loan? In several states, your spouse’s credit score won’t impact your VA loan if they are not a co-borrower. However, should you decide to add your spouse to the loan, their credit score will play a role. It’s important to note that VA loans are non-conforming loans. Although the VA does not mandate a minimum credit score, lenders typically have their own criteria. For example, Elevation Mortgage stipulates a minimum median FICO Score of 500. If your spouse has a poor credit score, adding them to the loan could affect your eligibility.

Can someone who is not my spouse be listed on the title of a VA loan? Yes, it is possible for a non-spouse to appear on the title of a VA loan, and such a co-borrower would participate in the loan underwriting process alongside you. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that many lenders, do not permit non-spouses as co-borrowers. Therefore, it’s advisable to consult with your lender prior to adding another person to your mortgage application.

Who is eligible to be listed on the title of a VA loan? When securing a VA home loan, various scenarios allow for another individual to be included on the title. Options include the veteran alone, the veteran with their spouse, multiple veterans together, or a veteran alongside a civilian, provided the non-military co-borrower contributes a down payment for their share of the loan.

Final Thoughts For military spouses, grasping the nuances of VA loan spouse requirements can significantly impact the journey towards homeownership. If you’re gearing up to search for a home, consider beginning with a VA loan application through Elevation Mortgage.


Picture of Reed Letson

Reed Letson

Reed offers two decades of expertise as a mortgage broker, focusing on veterans and first-time home buyers. With a strong grasp of real estate and mortgage markets, he empowers clients with practical insights. Reed's passion is guiding clients to build wealth through real estate investments and financing solutions.

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