The VA loan is a specialized mortgage program for veterans and active-duty service members. This unique loan offers numerous advantages such as no down payment requirement, lower interest rates, and more lenient credit standards compared to traditional loans.
Veterans can apply for the VA loan on their own or with their spouse as a co-borrower. A co-borrower agrees to be financially liable for the loan should the primary borrower default. Co-borrowers are equally responsible for the monthly payments, are included on the title, and equally share the equity in the home.
If you apply for a VA loan with your spouse, each of you will need to meet any financial conditions outlined by your VA-approved lender. These conditions can vary but include a review of your financials like credit score, debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, and income. Typically, most VA lenders seek a credit score of at least 620 and a debt-to-income ratio (DTI) of 41% or less.
Adding your spouse to the VA loan as a co-borrower may help you qualify for a larger loan amount but is not a VA requirement.
Can my spouse use a VA loan without me?
It’s important to understand that the VA loan is reserved for veterans and active-duty service members. The veteran must always be the primary borrower on a VA loan, except in cases involving surviving spouses.
The VA does extend VA home loan benefits to the widow or widower whose partner died while on active duty, from a service-related disability, or those receiving Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) benefits.
VA Loan Surviving Spouse Requirements
Surviving spouses of eligible veterans can qualify for VA home loan benefit as long as they remain unmarried and the veteran’s passing falls into the below criteria.
- The veteran is a POW (prisoner of war) or MIA (missing in action)
- The veteran passed away during active-duty service or from a service-related disability (and the spouse has not remarried)
- The veteran passed away while during active-duty service or from a service-related disability, and the spouse did not remarry before they turned 57 years old or prior to December 16, 2003
- The veteran was totally disabled and passed away, but their disability may not have been their cause of death (in specific situations)
In addition to meeting financial requirements, you must apply for a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to obtain a VA loan as a surviving spouse. Your local VA office can help provide guidance on how to acquire your COE.
VA Loan Spouse Requirements FAQs
Does my spouse have to be on my VA loan?
If you are an eligible veteran or military service member, you do not have to include your spouse or anyone else on your VA loan. Married service members often apply with a spouse to qualify for a higher loan amount, but it is not required.
Will my spouse’s credit score affect my VA loan?
If you do not include your spouse as a co-borrower, their financial status will not affect your VA loan qualification unless you reside in a community property state.
How does divorce impact my VA loan?
Ex-spouses of military members do not qualify for VA loans on their own. You can find more about your options for your current VA loan following a divorce here.
Can two married veterans combine their VA loans?
Yes, two married veterans can combine their entitlement amounts to obtain a VA loan. Other options include splitting your entitlements or only using one spouse’s entitlement on a VA loan.
Married veterans also have the option of combining entitlement leftover from a prior loan with the full entitlement of their spouse.
In any scenario where a portion of both veterans’ entitlement is being used, both veterans must meet the VA lender’s financial eligibility and requirements. Additionally, the couple must intend to occupy the property as their primary residence.
What if my spouse is non-purchasing, but we live in a community property state?
In community property states, any debt incurred during the marriage is generally considered to be the responsibility of both spouses, even if only one spouse applies for the loan. This means your lender will still count their monthly debts when calculating overall DTI, which can impact how much you qualify for.
Some community property states allow non-purchasing spouses to release their ownership interest and allow the borrower to close without counting their debts on the loan. These closing documents can be known as spousal waivers or quitclaim deeds depending on where you purchase.