Q: When I was married, my wife and I purchased a home with a VA loan. My wife and I later divorced and I was awarded the home in the divorce and it states so in the divorce decree.
My lender will not accept my divorce decree without permission from the VA. The VA also will not accept my divorce decree and wants a letter from my ex-wife stating that she relinquished her rights to the home, which she refuses to sign.
My question is, after I pay off the home, how can I get her name off the title?
A: You must separate the issues: There is a big difference between the ownership of your home and the debt obligation to your lender.
When you contact your lender or the VA, they will automatically assume you are calling them to see if you can get your former wife’s name off the mortgage to the home. From your perspective, you may not care if your former wife’s name is on or off your mortgage. You should only care that her name is no longer on the title to the home.
Usually people going through divorces forget to get a quitclaim deed from their former spouses transferring any interest the former spouse has in the home to the spouse given the home in divorce.
You have a divorce decree that says that you get sole ownership of the home. However, the land records where you live show you owning the home with your former spouse. You need to get your former spouse to sign the quitclaim deed to show you as the sole owner of the home. She can refuse to sign the deed, but you can ask the attorney that represented you in the divorce to go before the judge and get a court order that requires your former spouse to sign the deed. If your spouse refuses, the court may be able to issue a deed on your spouse’s behalf that you would be able to record.
Once you have that document, you can record or file it in the office that handles real estate records in your municipality, the property records will match the divorce decree and show you as the sole owner of the property.
Even if you are the sole owner of the property, you and your former spouse are still obligated to repay the loan. Your lender will report your timely payments to the credit reporting bureaus and will report any late payments as well. That payment history will be part of your credit report as well as your former spouse’s credit history, as your former spouse is still on the loan with you.
However, once you obtain the quitclaim deed and it is recorded, you can go back to your lender and the VA and have the loan changed to show you as the sole borrower on the loan. To convince your former spouse to sign the documents, you can always say that you need the quitclaim deed to get her name off the loan.