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.

67 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?

    1. Me and my ex-wife divorced back in 2011 and it was finalized in 2014 I was awarded the house thru the divorce settlement as well as custodial care of our 3 children she refused to sign quit claim deed u until i Removed her name from mortgage i tried refinancing 2 times since and both times was close to closing on the refinance but it never fell thru because both times my ex-wife refused to pay some credit card and small loan leins she had against the property
      While married in her name which keep me from closing both times I have been solely paying my mortgage by myself since 2011 as well as
      The primary custodial parent of our 3 kids
      Each time I ask her whether she took care of her leins she says no I’m not said she will let just them drop off her credit report after so many years
      It’s really frustrating because I got a new insurance company to cover my mortgage with a better rate after the divorce but they insist I still must
      Put my ex name on the policy cause her name still on the mortgage even though it’s my policy
      She never even signed it my delima is My home just went thru some storm damage and now I’m having to have her endorse my Insurance payments for repairs but feel she may try to screw me over As I said before I have been paying my mortgage solely by myself for the last 10 years she has had nothing to do with the house in any way shape or form not one Mortgage or insurance payment It was granted to me through the divorce I have all the proof on the the decree and stipulations The only technicality is that her name is still listed on the mortgage but that’s because she refuses to pay offer a leins which keeps me from going thru with refinancing I have gotten so sick and tired of the run around So I’ve decided next year I will just try to pay off the leins myself just to be through with her but my question is in the meantime is there anything I can do or any advice you can offer me At this very moment my biggest concern is that if I have her endorse my insurance home repair checks she may try to
      Get money out of it and dissappear Not to mention she has since remarried and has a different last name and lives in a different state
      But when my storm insurance damage check and personal property damage check came it came in her last name When she was married with me any advice or suggestions would be helpful just want to get my repairs complete on my home without her trying to make things difficult thinking she deserves to get something out of it This is why when I got the new insurance policy I tried to explain the situation to the insurance agent because I feared one day something like this happening
      I have not forwarded the check’s to my ex yet for her endorsement but just Feel she may try to be sneaky and take some of the funds for herself Again any advice would be helpful any suggestions I even went as far as to try to convince my Mortgagee lender to allow me to do an assumption long but they keep referring me back to a regular refinance
      Just want to get my ex wife is the name off my home and out of my life As she has been no help to me and our 3 children who are now young adults the youngest just turning 18 last month
      Again please any suggestions what would you do or what do you feel I should do

      1. If you were awarded the house in the divorce and she refuses to sign the deed to put the home in your name, you can ask the court to appoint someone to sign on her behalf (this is called an elisor). Similarly, if she refuses to take the steps necessary to put the mortgage in your name, you can ask the court to order her to do so. Frankly, as long as you are blaming your wife for your current situation and casting yourself as the victim, you are giving up any power that you might have. Once you accept that she is doing what she is doing, and not doing what she is not doing, and that is just what’s happening and doesn’t have anything to do with your ability to act, then you will be able to see powerful actions that you can take to get the transition taken care of. Good luck.

      2. Ms.Wall is correct in her reply. Do what she says. Contact the court. Most courts have someone to help with Family Law. In our county, I met with the Family Law Facilitator who helped me get started on my similar issue. It is important to do this right away! Your ex-wife may get more liens as time goes by. Afterwards, there are options to fighting, settling, or paying default judgements that create liens. First get the Court to help enforce the divorce agreement. Its a process, but one that will eventually put you in the drivers seat. Good luck!

  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.

  23. HI,

    I am divorcing with my wife. currently her name is on the title. she barely paid for any utility fees, property tax etc. this house is fully purchased in my parents cash with zero mortgage/finance etc. and she didn’t pay for any of the portion when purchased it. And my parents never say they will use this property as a gift to both of us she refuse to sign for divorce unless claim that she will have at least half of the property value.
    Is it true that she will be rewarded at least half of the property???? This is all my parents money. Not even one cent from her. We have been married for 7 years and we currently live in Florida for 3 years

    1. You can decide between you, and if you can’t decide, you can ask the court to decide for you. The court will follow Florida law in making its decision, so the thing for both of you to do is to find out what Florida law provides in a situation such as this. That will give you a backdrop against which to negotiate a settlement.

  24. Jerry P. Wasser

    My wife illegally evicted me from our family home by changing all the locks while I wasn’t home and tossing a few of my clothes on the lawn. She kept the majority of my property and has refused to return it. I attempted twice to involve the police, but they would not accompany me while all my things were retrieved. I never wanted to leave the home or get divorced, but she was having an affair with a woman and become irate when I found out. I live in Arizona and the mortgage is in both of our names. Her actions left me basically homeless, without a vehicle, and without access to my personal belongings. The home has a substantial amount of equity. In divorce court, should I seek to be award additional damages above and beyond equal division of assets and home equity due to her actions, and should I seek criminal charges against her? Thanks.

    1. Let’s start with the last question first — if the police are not interested in getting involved, I’m guessing that asking the DA to prosecute this as a crime is a waste of time, but that’s up to you. Hint: She’ll probably continue living in the house while the matter is being adjudicated and you will still be in the same situation.
      You are likely far better off asking the court to order her to turn your belongings over to you, and then taking steps to enforce that order.
      As for whether you can ask that she be sanctioned monetarily by the court, that depends on the laws of your state and the customs of your local court. So you’ll have to find that out from someone who is familiar with those laws and rules.

  25. My soon to be ex husband gave me $5000.00 in gift letter deposit. The loan and all information to acquire it was my information alone. He is on the deed. He doesn’t qualify for a mortgage loan. I’m keeping custody of our son. What usually happens?

    1. If I understand the situation, your husband gave you $5000 from some source along with a letter that said it was a gift to you. I would imagine in most states that would be your money.
      As for the home, he is on the deed as owner, so he has ownership in the house. If you used your gifted $5,000 as part of the down payment for the house, then you might have a right to get that money back off the top from the sale of the house, or reduce the amount you have to pay him to buy him out.

  26. Shirley Dickson

    I opted to keep the house in my divorce in 2006. I paid his half to him but my home document is still in both our names. I am thinking about selling it so what document does he need to sign so it’s only in my name?

  27. I’m divorcing my husband, we have a house we purchased in the marriage, he wants me to put the house under my name only but im afraid because my house income it’s lower then him. What can I do?

    1. The house can be put into your name by having him sign a quit claim deed that gives it to you. He will still be on the mortgage unless you refinance it into your name. If you cannot do it, then his name will remain on the mortgage.

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