What Are The VA Loan Spouse Requirements?
Sarah Sharkey4-minute read
May 31, 2023
It’s no secret that VA loans come with extensive benefits for eligible veterans and service members. You can’t match the ability to get a mortgage with lower interest rates and no down payment requirement.
But there are some extra considerations when qualified service members and veterans want to include their civilian spouse in the VA loan process. Let’s explore the VA loan spouse requirements to know before you start shopping for a VA loan.
Can A Service Member’s Spouse Get A VA Loan?
Spouses of an active duty or former service member can qualify for a VA loan through the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as a co-signer or co-borrower. Surviving spouses may be able to take out a VA loan on their own. Since the VA home loan is a government loan that offers lower restrictions and requires no down payment, that’s great news!
Applying For A VA Loan With A Civilian Spouse
When a military spouse co-signs on the mortgage, their income and credit standing will affect the loan details. With that, a military spouse with a high income and great credit rating could help the service member qualify for a larger loan or better interest rates. But on the flip side, a military spouse with a bad credit score could lead to higher interest rates.
So, it’s absolutely possible for a service member’s spouse to get on a VA loan. But take a look at your credit score and income before putting your name into the official application. You might decide to hold off if your credit score is low.
See What You Qualify For
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VA Loan Requirements For A Surviving Spouse
The Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012 changed the borrowing landscape for surviving spouses pursuing a VA loan. Before 2012, military members must have died of military-related causes in order for their spouses to apply for a VA loan.
But after 2012, the requirements expanded to include surviving spouses in the following situations:
- Your spouse was eligible for or received Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
- Your spouse died in service or from a service-related disability and you remarried at the age of 57 or older after December 31, 2003.
- Your spouse was missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW) for a period of at least 90 days. (This is a one-time use provision.)
- Your spouse was rated totally disabled from their service for a qualifying amount of time and died of unrelated causes.
- Your spouse died while on active duty or from a service-related issue and you didn’t remarry after their death.
Getting A Certificate Of Eligibility As A Surviving Spouse
The exact eligibility requirements for surviving spouses can vary based on the type of VA loan you are pursuing. If you believe you qualify for a VA loan as a surviving spouse, then you’ll need to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE).
This verifies your eligibility as a surviving spouse, letting your lender know you qualify for a VA loan. You can apply for your COE online or your lender can assist you with requesting a certificate of eligibility.
How Can Divorce Affect A VA Loan?
The VA loan is designed to help veterans achieve the dream of homeownership. With that, there are very strict occupancy requirements that you wouldn’t have to worry about with most other types of mortgages.
Ex-Spouses Can’t Get A New VA Loan
First, it’s important to understand that ex-spouses of service members aren’t eligible for a new VA loan. That’s a relatively cut and dried rule. But if you and your former spouse are on the same VA loan together, it gets a bit more complicated.
Ex-Spouses Can Sometimes Stay In The Home
In the event of a divorce, the civilian spouse can remain in the home if they were a co-signer on the loan. But if the civilian spouse wasn’t a co-signer, they can only stay in the home if they assume the existing mortgage or refinance.
Ex-Spouses Could Impact The VA Entitlement
If the civilian spouse keeps the home, and the mortgage, there are also entitlement issues to consider. The service member won’t be able to restore their entitlement until their ex refinances the loan or pays off the existing VA loan.
Post-divorce finances are never easy, but a VA loan adds more complications to them.
FAQs About VA Loan Spouse Requirements
Still have questions about VA loan spouse requirements? Let’s take a closer look at some frequently asked questions about spouse requirements for a VA loan.
Does my spouse have to be on my VA loan?
As a qualified veteran or service member, your spouse doesn’t have to be on your VA loan. However, adding a spouse as a co-borrower could increase the amount you qualify for.
Does my spouse’s credit score affect my VA loan?
In many states, the lender won’t consider your spouse’s credit score if they aren’t on the loan. But if you add your spouse as a co-borrower, their credit score will affect your VA loan.
Keep in mind that the VA loan is a non-conforming loan, and while the VA doesn’t have any set minimum credit score requirements, lenders do. Rocket Mortgage® requires clients to have at least a 580 median FICO® Score. If your spouse has a bad credit score, adding them as a co-borrower would impact your approval chances.
Can a non-spouse be on the title on a VA loan?
Technically, a non-spouse can be on the title of a VA loan and this co-borrower will go through the loan underwriting process with you. However, many lenders – including Rocket Mortgage – don’t accept a non-spouse as a co-borrower. That’s why you should check with your lender before adding someone else to the mortgage application.
Who can be on the title on a VA loan?
When taking out a VA home loan, there are several scenarios in which another individual can be on the title. The veteran can be the sole person on the title, the veteran can be on the title with their spouse, multiple veterans can be on a title together and a veteran and civilian can be on the title provided that the non-military borrower paid a down payment toward their portion of the loan.
The Bottom Line
As a military spouse, understanding the VA loan spouse requirements can make a big difference in the home buying process. If you are ready to dive into the home search, start by applying for a VA loan with Rocket Mortgage.
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