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How to Remove One Spouse's Name from a Mortgage

In the aftermath of a divorce, many couples face the challenge of untangling their shared financial responsibilities. This can include real estate property division – what should you do with the family home?

In some instances, one spouse wants to keep the marital home, and the other wants out of it. How do you navigate the release of liability of one spouse and make it official in the eyes of your mortgage lender?

Let's imagine a scenario where John and Jane have recently gone through a divorce. John wants to move out and have his name removed from the mortgage, and they both agree that Jane should buy out her spouse’s share of the home and keep the house. This decision will free John from financial obligation and give Jane full responsibility for the mortgage payments. 

The process of removing one spouse's name from the mortgage and transferring the responsibility to the other spouse can be complex, but with the right guidance, it can be done efficiently and effectively.

Before you do anything with your home, check your credit score. If the spouse assuming the mortgage has a good credit score, they will get a better interest rate and terms on the new loan.

How to get your spouse’s name off the mortgage

To remove John's name from the mortgage, Jane may consider refinancing the mortgage in her name only.

Refinancing the mortgage in the buyer’s name only

The divorcing couple will need to go through a process called refinancing. This involves Jane taking out a new mortgage loan to replace the existing one, effectively allowing Jane to become the sole borrower. 

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to accomplish this:

Step 1: Assess the buyer’s financial situation

Before proceeding with the refinancing process, it's essential to determine whether Jane can afford mortgage payments on her own. She should evaluate her income, credit score, and debt-to-income ratio to make sure that she meets the lender's requirements for a new loan.

Step 2: Shop around for lenders

Jane should research and compare different lenders to find the best possible mortgage rates and terms. It's important to gather multiple quotes, as this will help her make an informed decision and potentially save money in the long run.

Step 3: Gather the necessary documentation

To apply for a new loan, Jane will need to provide several documents, including proof of income, bank statements, tax returns, and identification. Having these documents readily available will expedite the application process.

Step 4: Submit a loan application

Once Jane has chosen a lender, she'll need to complete a loan application. The lender will review her financial information and assess her creditworthiness to determine if she qualifies for a new mortgage.

Step 5: Have the home appraised

The lender may require a home appraisal to determine the value of your home. This step is crucial, as it ensures that the loan amount doesn't exceed the value of the property.

Step 6: Review loan terms and sign the agreement

If Jane's homebuyer application is approved, she'll receive a loan offer outlining the terms and conditions of the new mortgage. She should carefully review the details, including the interest rate, monthly payment, and any fees associated with the loan. If she agrees to the terms, she'll sign the loan documents.

Step 7: Close the loan

During the closing process, the new mortgage will replace the old one, effectively removing John's name from the mortgage. Jane will now be the sole borrower responsible for making the mortgage payments.

Signing a quitclaim deed

A quitclaim deed will need to be filed to legally transfer ownership of the property from both spouses to the one assuming the mortgage. The deed must be notarized to validate its authenticity. Find a local notary public to witness and verify the signatures on the document.

Next step: Record the signed and notarized deed with the county recorder's office to make the transfer of ownership official.

Updating homeowner’s insurance

The company that insures the home must be notified about the change in ownership so the policy can be updated accordingly.

Tips

Undergoing a major financial transaction like this is stressful at any time, let alone during a divorce. Keep the following tips in mind.

  • Consider mediation or legal advice. If there are disputes or complications, consider hiring a mediator or seeking legal advice to help navigate the process. Many divorcing couples find success with a trained, impartial mediator who helps them hammer out the details of their settlement agreement.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. It may be tough, but the best way to accomplish this transaction is with open and honest communication with your ex-spouse. If everyone is fully informed, the transition is likely to be a smoother one.
  • Call on Hello Divorce for help. We strive to help clients with all aspects of the divorce process. As such, we offer online divorce plans, mediation sessions, legal coaching sessions, help with financial planning, and a lot more. Schedule a free 15-minute call to introduce yourself and learn how we can help you through this process with as little stress as possible.