How to Remove a Name From a Joint Mortgage

My ex-spouse and I bought a house 4 years ago. I need to leave. How can I remove my name from the mortgage?

My ex-spouse and I bought a house four years ago and the loan and deed are in both names. I wish to leave and sign a quitclaim deed. Our mortgage company will not refinance because we owe more on our home than what it is worth due to the drop in market prices in our area. What are my options to remove my name from the mortgage?

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Remove Name From Mortgage
Highlights

  • Review the difficulties involved in removing a name from a mortgage.
  • Understand that refinancing is the best option for changing the names on the mortgage.
  • Shop around when looking for a mortgage.

Thank you for your question about ways to remove a name from an existing mortgage.

Refinancing is the Primary Method of Changing the Names on the Mortgage

The situation you describe is one faced by many divorcing couples, especially with the downturn in the housing market which has made refinancing much more difficult for many consumers. There are four options to remove liability for a co-signed or joint loan:

  1. Refinance the loan and not include a party in the refinance.
  2. Sell the property in question, which will extinguish the loan liability, unless there is deficiency balance.
  3. File for chapter 7 bankruptcy.
  4. Allow a strategic default. However, all parties on the loan will be responsible for any deficiency balance.

A quit-claim deed removes a party’s interest in the property by changing the name(s) on the title. However, executing a quit-claim deed does not eliminate a co-borrower's financial or legal liability for the loan. The property’s title is separate from any mortgage or deed in trust that encumbers the property.

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Reasons the Lender Does Not Want to Remove Someone from a Mortgage

Your lender is unlikely to remove your name from the loan voluntarily. Mortgage contracts are written to make it difficult or impossible for the parties to change the terms or conditions. Why? The mortgage originator estimated the risk for the loan based on, in the case of a joint mortgage, both borrowers’ credit scores, incomes, and debt-to-income ratios. With only one person responsible for the loan, the lender is in a riskier position.

The fact that you owe more on the home than it is worth makes it even less likely the lender would remove your name from the note, as the lack of equity increases the probability that you and your ex-spouse will default on the mortgage. Even though your ex-spouse may have every intention of keeping the loan current, the lender will want as many people as possible liable for the loan so that it has a higher chance of collecting on any deficiency balance that results in case of default and foreclosure.

Shop Around for a Loan

While your current lender may not be willing to refinance your loan, you may be able to find another bank willing to lend you the funds needed to refinance. Finding a loan in today’s market can be difficult, especially if your ex-spouse has had any credit problems in the past. His or her credit is what’s important since your spouse is the one who will be applying for the refinance loan. However, contact several lenders to discuss your situation and find out what options, if any, they offer.

It is unlikely you will find a lender willing to lend you more than the home is worth. Because you are upside-down on your current mortgage, you may need a large down payment available in order to obtain a refinance loan. In addition, you will need to compare the terms of your current loan with those of any refinance offered to make sure that the new terms are competitive with those of your previous loan. To learn more about refinance loans, I encourage you to visit the Bills.com home refinance page.

Tough to Refinance

As I mentioned, finding an affordable refinance loan may be an uphill battle given the current state of the U.S. economy and housing market. Barring your current lender agreeing to voluntarily remove your name from your and your ex-spouse’s current loan, the best thing for you to do may be to leave your name on the mortgage for the time being. Once the housing market recovers from its current depressed state, your home’s value should increase, hopefully providing you with enough equity to refinance the home at a more favorable rate without the need of a large down payment.

If your ex-spouse makes the payments on time each month, having your name on the mortgage will improve your credit rating, allowing you to begin establishing your own credit accounts and thus building credit independent of your ex-spouse. If possible, have your ex-spouse keep records that prove he or she makes the mortgage payment alone. That way, you increase your chances of not having the mortgage payment counted as part of your monthly obligations when you go to qualify for a loan of your own.

There is no clear solution beyond a refinance loan, which may be out of reach at this point. Even if you are not able to remove you name from the loan, this mortgage should not cause you any problems as long as your ex-spouse continues making the monthly payments on time.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.

Best,

Bill

Bills.com

279 Comments

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  • MM
    Jul, 2014
    Marisa
    My husband filed for divorce in 2008, and filed bankruptcy with his previous wife. The bankruptcy was finalized in 2009. He relinquished his rights to the home in which his name should be off the home in Florida. His ex-wife still resides in the home.

    We were house-hunting in Pennsylvania today and learned his name is still attached to the Florida house. I don't think she was making payments on the home. I'm unsure where to start to deal with this mess.
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Jul, 2014
      Bill
      Your husband needs to make a brief phone call to his bankruptcy lawyer to learn if his liability for the home loan debt was discharged in the bankruptcy. Your husband should also ask if he signed a reinstatement of the loan, which his lawyer almost certainly advised him not to do.

      My guess, note that word choice, is your husband had his liability for the home loan discharged. However, my guess is the title still shows him as an owner. If so, your husband should consider filing a quitclaim deed to relinquish his rights to the property. Assuming the bankruptcy wiped out his liability, a quitclaim deed will remove any connection he has to his former residence.
      0 Votes

  • BM
    Apr, 2014
    Brittany
    I bought a house with my girlfriend in 2001 and around 2009 we broke up. Her name is on the deed I'm trying to get a promotion so I can refinance in my name so hers will come off. She's been bugging me this past month for her stuff. Like ceilings fans and things. My question is, does she have a right to anything after being gone for so long?
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Apr, 2014
      Bill
      If you two can't reach an agreement on the fixtures in the house on your own, then try to convince the other co-owner that you two should consult with a mediator to decide how to split up the home's assets.
      0 Votes

  • AO
    Mar, 2014
    An
    (Canada) My boyfriend got married 4 years ago in Mexico (So not legally married in Canada) and did not sign a pre nup. He bought a house and both their names are on the title. He caught her cheating on him after being 'married' for 3 years and she moved out. She did her own thing for a year and then went totally broke so told him she is moving back into the house. He does not want her there at all but she is legally allowed since they both own the home. She has not paid a single dime for anything, he pays the mortgage and all the bills. He doesn't want to sell his house but it seems like the only way to get rid of her is to sell the house and split the money. If he wants to get refinanced and get her off the title, does she have to agree? Or can he do it without her consent? She will not agree to anything, she is spiteful and wants to live there and live off him. Is there anything he can do to get her off the title or at least moved out of the house??? She is also emotionally abusive and she is driving him crazy. Would that help at all in getting her kicked out? Advice? He has paid a lot in lawyers and says there's nothing he can do. Is that true? Thanks for listening!
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Mar, 2014
      Bill
      I'm not an expert on Canadian family law. If your boyfriend has "paid a lot in lawyers" he should have an excellent idea what steps he can take to resolve this situation.
      0 Votes

  • PR
    Mar, 2014
    Panda
    My ex boyfriend and I bought a home here in wyoming about 3 maybe 4 years ago. (127k) Things were not working to say the least and we ended up sperating. Originally I was told that if i signed the quick claim deed to remove my name off the home it would include the loan. I was wrong. He had lied and when I seen i was still legally and financially responsible for the loan part of the home I had asked him to remove my name. He kept telling me all these excuse til finally one came out that made since he would have to refinance. My problem is that now i have moved on and and married and my husband and I are wanting to buy a home but im still on the loan for my previous home. He wont refinance and keeps making up excuses as to why i have to wait. He's been late on payments but hasnt not paid to my knowledge... I dont want my credit hurting from this anymore and I am not sure what I can do myself to get this taken care of. Ive read he can buy me out but he is barely making it by as is and im not really sure how refinancing works to my favor if it hurts my credit (like he tells me) Either way im at a loss and pulling my hair out, any advice is appreciated.
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Mar, 2014
      Bill
      Reread the original article above to understand your limited options. Consult with a bankruptcy lawyer to learn if bankruptcy is the least-worst action you can take to free yourself from this situation.
      0 Votes

  • RC
    Feb, 2014
    Ronald
    I am trying to get my ex-wife's name off of the 1st mortgage which is modified with CITI.I had a $70K drop in income in 2009 so I successfully applied for a HAMP Loan which started in April of 2010. I got divorced in Oct 2011. Even though I experienced a hardship I NEVER stopped paying my mortgage on time, or any other bill. Also, I have reduced my Credit Card Debt from $58K 6 yrs ago to $7K today. Hence, I have a current credit rating of about 780. My ex-wife did a quit claim at the divorce with the agreement that I get her name off the mortgage in 4 yrs - Oct 2015 - 19 mos from now or I have to sell the house, something I DONT WANT TO DO. I love my house & want to stay. The 1st mortgage with CITI is $192,765 & the Deferred Amount is $76,300 = $269,065 Total CITI Mortgage. I also have $84K in a Chase Heloc but her name is NOT on that loan so all I have to do is remove her from the CITI Amount of $269K. She NEVER contributed to the Mortgage & I have a 20 Yr 100% Perfect History of Paying EVERY BILL ON TIME. According to Eappraisal & Zillow I have $48-58K in Equity so I AM NOT under water but I do not have an 80-20 Equity split to refi. I have $5K in the bank & the last 2 yrs I've made $80K & $82K. Is there ANYTHING I can do to simply make CITI let me continue do what I'm doing? That is, pay my mortgage on time. I love my house, I can afford to pay for my house, I don't want to sell my house so can you tell me how to get her name off the mortgage in the next 19 months? Thanks
    0 Votes

    • BA
      Feb, 2014
      Bill
      Ron, it sounds like you will have to look at a refinance that does not require 20% equity. I advise you speak with other lenders and see where you stand now. You need to find out whether there is any loan program you qualify for now, based on your credit score, credit history, debt-to-income ratio, and LTV. Maybe an FHA loan or high LTV conventional loan is an option, even if you need to pay for mortgage insurance. If property values are rising in your area, it may be worth waiting a bit, if your LTV affects your qualifying or the rate you will get.
      0 Votes