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What Are The VA Loan Spouse Requirements?

Sarah Sharkey3-minute read

September 16, 2022


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?

As a spouse, or surviving spouse, of an active duty or former service member, you can qualify for a VA loan as a co-signer or co-borrower. Since the VA loan is a government loan that offers lower restrictions and requires no down payment, that’s great news!

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.

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 the VA loan.

But after 2012, the requirements expanded to include surviving spouses in the following situations:

  • Your spouse died in service or from a service-related disability.
  • Your spouse was missing in action (MIA) or a prisoner of war (POW) for a period of at least 90 days.
  • Your spouse was rated totally disabled from their service and died of unrelated causes.
  • You didn’t remarry after losing your spouse.

The exact eligibility requirements for surviving spouses can vary based on the types 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).

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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.

First, 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.

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 cannot stay in the home if the veteran has moved out.

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.

The finances post-divorce are never easy. But a VA loan can throw more complications into the mix.

FAQs About VA Loan Spouse Requirements

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?

A non-spouse can be on the title of a VA loan. But the co-borrower must go through the loan underwriting process with you.

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 getting approved for a VA loan with Rocket Mortgage.

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Sarah Sharkey

Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer who enjoys diving into the details to help readers make savvy financial decisions. She’s covered mortgages, money management, insurance, budgeting, and more. She lives in Florida with her husband and dog. When she's not writing, she's outside exploring the coast. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.