How to Get the House in Your Name After a Divorce

If you want to keep your house after your divorce, you are taking on a big financial challenge! If you are like most Americans, your mortgage represents your largest monthly expense, and now instead of splitting it between two incomes, you’ll have to find a way to shoulder it all on your own.

Still, many women want to keep the house to maintain a stable environment for their children. Your house may also be in a school district you love, close to work, or close to friends and family.

If you have your heart set on keeping your house after a divorce, how exactly do you go about taking your husband off the mortgage and putting the house entirely into your ownership?

Get Your Spouse’s Approval

The very first thing you need to do in order to keep your house is to get your spouse’s approval. If you and your spouse purchased the house together after you were married, it is likely to be considered martial property. That means your spouse has some entitlement to it.

If you live in a community property state, your spouse will be entitled to half of the home’s value. That means that if your spouse doesn’t want you to keep the house, he can likely get a judge to force you to sell it so that he can get his share. You will need to negotiate with your spouse and convince him to give up his claim on the house.

Often, this will require you to buy your spouse out of his share of the equity.

Refinance the Home

If you can get your spouse’s approval to let you keep the house, you’ll want to remove him from your mortgage and title. You can do this by refinancing the home in your name only. A refinance can also allow you to pull money from the equity you’ve built in the house so that you can pay your spouse for his share.

Unfortunately, getting approved for a refinance can be very difficult for a newly single woman. You will have to prove to a bank that you have good enough credit and a strong enough income to afford the mortgage payments on your own.

Most couples purchase a home that is right at the level they can afford collectively with their combined incomes. You may be trying to stay in a home that was only really affordable for you as a couple, not you as a single person.

The bank may not grant you a refinance, or you may have to ask your parents or a family member or even your ex-spouse to co-sign. You may also face a higher interest rate if the banks perceive you as a bigger risk and/or if you take out so much equity that you have less than 20% equity in the home.

Keep the Mortgage You Have

If your heart is set on keeping your home but you cannot qualify for a refinance, one of the only options you have left is to keep the mortgage that you have. This is a risky move. You’ll need to convince your spouse to keep paying his half of the mortgage or find a way to buy him out of his share. If he does agree to keep paying the mortgage (perhaps to ensure his children get to stay in the home), you will be dependent on him.

What if he loses his job or gets remarried and wants to buy a home with his new wife? At any time, or for any reason he could stop making payments. If, as a result, you default on your mortgage, you could lose the house, and both of your credit scores will be tarnished!

If you qualify for alimony, you may be able to work out an agreement with your husband so that he makes his required alimony payments right to the mortgage company. This can add more reliability to the process, but won’t help you if your husband loses his job, retires, or if he decides one day that he wants to sell the house.

A Difficult Decision

Think long and hard before you decide that you definitely want to keep your house after divorce. As we have written about in the past, keeping the house may seem like a good idea at the time, but it could burden you with huge financial expenses that will make it very difficult for you to financially recover after your divorce.

It is worth it to see how keeping the house versus selling the house and moving to a lower cost option would affect your financial stability. Consider discussing your options with a financial adviser who specializes in divorce. You can find one at the next Second Saturday Workshop in your area.

54 thoughts on “How to Get the House in Your Name After a Divorce”

  1. Delaina Franklin

    If my husband moved out and I’ve maintained paying the mortgage for the last two years and I entitled to the amount I’ve paid on the mortgage when figuring out how much he will need to be bought out with?

    1. You’ll need to discuss this with an attorney familiar with the laws of your state. It is possible that the principal portion of your mortgage payments would be credited to you, but an attorney can tell you what the laws of your state provide.

      1. Lydell Miller

        I’m looking to divorce my wife. You think they will allow me to get house and kid since I’m just the father and the house in her name?

        1. In most states, the laws are written to promote the children having a meaningful relationship with both parents, and so it is likely that a child sharing shcedule will be worked out to achieve that. If the house is in her name alone, then it might be that she would be given first option to buy your interest out — it depends on the laws of your state. But often, neither spouse has the financial means to buy the other out and then pay all the costs to keep the house, given that there are two households now to be supported. So in that case, the house would be sold and the proceeds divided.

    2. Aaron Gonzalez

      Well I been paying on my house for three has my ex wife name still on the house with me but she never paid a cent of mortgage but when I decide to sell I have to give her half how is that fair!!

      1. If that is what the two of you agreed to in your divorce agreement, then that is the agreement you made (or what the court ordered) and what you must do. If your home was not addressed in your divorce agreement, then you’ll need to work something out with her or petition the court to rule on the division of an omitted asset.

  2. Question, I was divorced 10 yrs. Ago. A quick deed title was given to me. I was only able to make 4 payments, aft. This, I have been living here 10 yrs. Nobody foreclosed. Now I make payments to the county for back taxes. I don’t feel anymore the 3rd morgage co has stopped contacting me. I had to put a roof on it, and has ceiling damage. Once the county has it, many yrs now, am I still responsible for my exes mortgage. I think it may have been fraudulent, after we refinanced. Any ideas? Thank you

    1. If the house is foreclosed on, and the sales price of the home is not sufficient to meet the amount due on the mortgages, the borrowers on the mortgage may be held responsible for the deficiencies unless the mortgage said it was a non-recourse mortgage.

  3. I have been divorce for 7 years and my husband is still living in the house we finance together. How can I get my name off this house; so I can purchase my own home?

    1. You could quit claim the house to him by filing a quit claim deed with the courthouse. But if your name is on the mortgage and that’s what you want your name off of, then he’ll likely have to refinance the home into his name alone. Check with the lender to find out their requirements. But if your divorce decree says he is to get the house and make the payments and he has been doing so for more than a year, a mortgage company will usually disregard the fact that your name is still on the mortgage for the old house when qualifying you to buy a new home.

  4. I want to divorce , we bought the house after married but the house is on his name, he ask me if I want the house or everything inside house , what can I do ? I want to pay the house all the way off at one time but I don’t know how.

    1. You’ll need to find out what the laws of your state say about a home and the personal furnishings in it. In many states both spouses would have an interest in it even though it was acquired in just one name. If that is true where you live, you’ll need to figure out how you can compensate him for his share, and whether you can afford the payments. You say you want to pay off the house, so if you have the funds to do that, then mortgage payments won’t be a consideration for you.

    1. If he owned the house or a portion of it and he named you as beneficiary in his will, or the house was held in a title that provides for the survivor to receive it, then his portion will go to you. Otherwise, it will go to whomever he named in his will. Check with an attorney to find out what your state provides that might override this rule.

  5. Michelle Lynn DeVito

    What if my Dad have me the money for the down payment on the house?
    Plus we almost lost the house in 2008 and I was the one who saved it through keep your home California.
    Been in house for 18 years. Kids 14 and 3 still at home

  6. My ex-husband and I divorced in 2015, in the divorce I was awarded half the property, he still lives
    in the home with our grown boys 24 & 28, our names are on the title and now he wants to refinance for a lower payment, I want him to buy me out but cost wise he’s unable to do so, will it be in my best interest to sign the refi and stay on the property?

    1. If he cannot borrow enough to buy you out, and you don’t want to force a sale to get your money, then you’ll have to stay as owner of the property. Signing the refi papers don’t change your position one way or the other, it just lowers his payment.

  7. Sashakay Campbell

    Hello looking for some advice . Am going to file for divorce from my husband. We purchase our home in the marriage. But the problem is am not on the mortgage only him. At the time when we where purchasing the home my credit wasn’t good to be Eligible for loan. Would I be able to get the home since I have primary custody of the child.

    1. It probably won’t make a difference whether you are on the mortgage or not, since to buy him out you’d have to refinance anyway. So what is important is whether you can qualify for a loan. If not, then perhaps you and he can reach an agreement to hold the house jointly with you living there until your child is grown, and you be responsible for the costs of the mortgage, etc.

  8. I got a divorce in 5 years ago and the courts gave me the house cause she didn’t want it I owe 5 more payments until the house is payed off but when we got the house both of r names is on it .now once I pay the bank off and if they put it in my wife’s name instead of mine how do I get the deed just innmy name

    1. You will need to file a new deed at the courthouse. The clerk can give you the proper form. If her name is on the deed now, she will have to sign approving the transfer into your name alone. If she refuses to sign, then you can ask the court to appoint someone to sign on her behalf.

  9. We just bought a new house, my wife doesn’t have an income (taking care of the baby). I’m the only one who pays for everything, mortgage, all bills. My wife appears like a Co-Borrower even if she doesn’t have any income. I used my money for down payment too.
    My Question: In case that we decide to divorce is she entitled for 1/2 of the house?

  10. House is in my name but agreed with the ex in the divorce that she can have the house. How do I get my name off the loan other than her refinancing the home in her name (she doesn’t have the credit).

  11. My husband was awarded the house in our divorce 8 years ago. He still has my name on the mortgage and deed. He has fallen 4 months past due on payments. This has caused my credit score to plummet. What rights do I have?

  12. I just got divorce. I was awarded the house.the house is under our names. The mortgage is under my name. I want to know how can I take the name of my ex out of the property.

  13. My wife & I divorced 8 years ago, I was awarded the house, took all the financial responsibilities & now she thinks she can have half, her name is still on the deed & the loan. Can she do that ?

    1. If you were awarded the house, then you own it. But the public records say that she owns half of it. So you need to get a transfer deed drawn up and filed. If she refuses to sign the transfer deed, you can ask to court to appoint someone (called an elisor, and often the courtroom baliff) to sign on her behalf.

  14. Gladys Wilburt

    I’m 60 and about to be divorced.We have a home together on my property he wants to sale the house but I want to keep my property

    1. In your divorce negotiations you’ll need to divide the property in a manner that makes sense for the two of you. If he wants to sell, and you have the ability to buy out his share of the property, then you can each get what you want.

  15. I filed for divorce in 2015 it was final in 2017. I was awarded 70% of the house and my ex-husband 30%. Part of the divorce agreement was that he was to help in doing the repairs to the house at a 50/50 split in order to sell . He is an electrician and the biggest thing needed in a new electrical service which has to be done in order to sale. He has stopped paying his 50% of water bills and sewer bills. Refuses to do any repairs. His name is on mortgage not mine. But I am on the deed. He wants to sell the house without
    Doing these repairs which will affect the value it could be sold for. I refuse to let a realtor in and I will not sign off on the deed. What should I do?

    1. It sounds as though you are at a stand-off. He won’t do the repairs and you won’t sell without those repairs being done. You could let him know that you are hiring another electrician to do the needed repairs and sending him the bill for half the cost, and you will take him back to court to enforce the orders that he pay his half. Before you do that, I would try to get something in writing from him that says that he won’t perform the needed repairs himself, so he doesn’t say later he was willing to do them and you refused to let him.

  16. So… my house is in my name, he’s not on the loan or the deed. I can afford it without his help and will most likely be the primary custodial parent with three kids who are 16, 13, and 9. We just bought the house in 2017, so will his share be considered only half of the current equity? We paid for the down payment with my summer balloon check (I’m a teacher) and I make almost twice what he does because he refuses to get more than a part time job. I can afford the house without his help, and I could probably figure out a way to pay him his half of the current equity, but half of it’s value wouldn’t be possible, and I really don’t want to sell it. I love this house and my kids love it.

  17. The mortgage is my name only. The divorce decree states she was to make the monthly payments, and she has, and to refinance the house out of my name within 5 years. That was 8 years ago, and she still hasn’t done it.
    She contacted me by text wanting me to call the bank, and to allow her to cash out the escrow, because she is “closing” next week on a new mortgage for the house. I haven’t signed anything, and I honestly don’t understand much about all of this.

    1. The escrow account accumulates funds to be used to pay property taxes and insurance. If she is taking out a new mortgage, then the funds in that escrow account will be refunded to the borrower of record, your, once the old mortgage is paid off by the new lender. Since she’s been making the mortgage payments, all the funds in the escrow account have been put there by her, so it makes sense that she would be entitled to those funds, not you. So she’s asking that you ask the bank to refund those funds to her and not to you.

  18. Hi, I’ve been divorced for over 3 years. I agreed to allow my ex-husband reside in the home that we purchased together. I reside in a different State now. The land that the home is on was deeded to me from my mother, and we used that to purchase the home. I want to get my name off of EVERYTHING and let him have it ALL. How do I go about this?

    1. It’s easy to take your name off the deed to the home. You can contact the county clerk and get the form you need to file to quitclaim the home to him. But if there’s a mortgage that has your name on it, your ex will need to contact the mortgage company to see how to get the mortgage in his name alone. They may require him to refinance. And I suggest you don’t quit the home to him until you know your name is off the mortgage.

  19. Evelyn Skadburg

    My ex-husband never paid child support, left to another state. On divorce papers we decided the house will be for our 3 children and myself. But his name still shows on the tittle. What should I do to get his name off the tittle? He is re married and me too.

    1. If you were granted ownership of the house you should have a new deed drawn up and contact him to have him sign it. If he refuses, you can ask the court to appoint someone to sign on his behalf (called an elisor). It often would be the court’s bailiff who would sign.

  20. Jesus hernandez

    Hi my wife left the house 9 months ago we bought the house 5 years ago in Arizona. We have 4 children the oldest is from different mother I got full custody. the mortgage is under my name I’m planning to file for a divorce. She is been telling me that she wants to keep the house she doesn’t want to get in a agreement. Now my question is can she really keep the house she is illegal immigrant no documents I really love my house???

    1. You are in the house, right? So at this moment what she wants or doesn’t want isn’t an issue, you are where you want to be. If you file for divorce, you will say that you want the house and propose what you will give her to buy her interest out. If she wants the house, she will have to show that she has the means to buy you out. Even if she can do that, faced with the choice I would imagine a judge would award the house to the person living there with the children.

  21. My wife left the house 9 months ago. The mortgage is under my name I’m going to file for a divorce she is being telling me that she wants the house. Can she keep the house she is illegal person no documents??

    1. If she has the ability to buy you out of the house, then she could keep the house. If you each have the ability to buy the other out and you each want to keep the house, then you will have to decide which of you will keep the house, or submit the question to a judge and let them decide based on all the facts and circumstances, such as who is living there and where the children, if any, reside.

  22. Our house was signed over to us by a my mother and we have a contract with her to buy the house and she has life long lease. My husband has not held a steady job and for the last 2 years has not worked at all. We took a loan out on the home and owe about 2000 less than it is worth.I can afford the payments myself. Do you think I would be able to keep the home. He said my only choice is to sell for the divorce? Also we still owe my mother 17,000 for the purchase of the home.

    1. If you owe less than it is worth, it seems to me that if you sold it you would net nothing from the sale. He is entitled to 50% of that, and 50% of nothing is nothing. So if you can afford to make the payments and you can get his name off the loan, then he’d be in the same position whether you took it over or it were sold.

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