When you apply for a mortgage loan, your lender will verify a range of information, asking you to provide documents that prove your income, employment and debts. The reason? Your lender wants to make sure that you can afford monthly mortgage payments. Your lender will also ask you -- in a box on the loan application that you'll fill out -- for your marital status. But this won't be subject to the same verification as your employment and gross monthly income.
Your lender will require you to complete the Uniform Residential Loan Application. While filling out this document, you'll need to provide such information as your Social Security number, full name and employment history. You also must provide information about your income and debts. A box on the form that asks about your marital status directs you to check the box next to "Married," "Separated" or "Unmarried." You'll check this last section if you are single, divorced or widowed.
Your lender will ask you to provide copies of such documents as your most recent federal income-tax returns, last two paycheck stubs and bank statements. The lender will use these documents to verify that you can afford the mortgage loan. You won't, though, have to verify your marriage. You won't, for instance, have to provide your lender with a copy of your marriage license.
This doesn't mean, though, that your marital status won't affect your ability to get a mortgage loan. If you and your spouse apply for a loan jointly, you can use both your income and your spouse's in an attempt to qualify for a larger mortgage loan. The downside is that if your credit score is high but your spouse's is low, it might hurt your ability to qualify for a mortgage loan or a low interest rate. Your lender will only consider the lowest three-digit credit score among you and your spouse. If your FICO credit score stands at 740 and your spouse's is only 650, your lender will toss out your score and only rely on your spouse's.
Alimony, child support
Your marital status can also affect your income. If you are divorced and paying child support, that counts as a monthly debt, which could lower your chances of qualifying for a loan. Most mortgage lenders want your total monthly debts -- including your new mortgage payment -- to equal no more than 36 percent of your gross monthly income. Child-support payments could make it harder to achieve that 36 percent level. If you receive alimony payments, though, this could make it easier to qualify for a loan. That's because you can count alimony payments as part of your gross monthly income.
- Bankrate: What Debt-to-Income Matters in Mortgages
- Federal Housing Administration. "Annual Report to Congress Regarding the Financial Status of the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund," Page 52. Accessed April 10, 2020.
- My Fico. "Loan Savings Calculator." Accessed 10, 2020.
- Fannie Mae. "Underwriting Factors and Documentation for a Self-Employed Borrower." Accessed April 10, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Form 4506-T: Request for Transcript of Tax Return," Page 1 - 2. Accessed April 10, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Form 8821: Tax Information Authorization," Page 1 Accessed April 10, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Form 4506: Request for Copy of Tax Return," Page 1 - 2 Accessed April 10, 2020.
Don Rafner has been writing professionally since 1992, with work published in "The Washington Post," "Chicago Tribune," "Phoenix Magazine" and several trade magazines. He is also the managing editor of "Midwest Real Estate News." He specializes in writing about mortgage lending, personal finance, business and real-estate topics. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Illinois.