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How to Remove a Name From a Joint Mortgage

How to Remove a Name From a Joint Mortgage
Mark Cappel
UpdatedOct 1, 2008
Key Takeaways:
  • 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.

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?

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 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.




MMARK, Aug, 2021

I bought a house 30 years ago ,I paid the mortgage off .when I got the deed I found my girlfriend at the time some how got her name on the deed, how could I get her name off my property.havent seen her in 30 years

JJosh, Aug, 2021

Hello Mark,
Thank you for reaching out regarding your deed. First, congrats on completely paying off your mortgage. Depending on if you are married or not or have other relatives you may be able to remove your ex with the Quitclaim Deed. Use the link below to get more details. It's my research that fits your situation as close as possible.

Regards, Josh

AAnne, Aug, 2020

My bf bought a house with his ex over 3 years ago. They broke up over 2 years ago and for the year and a half ive been with him he’s been asking to get his name off the mortgage. They were never married but we’re unable to buy a new home until his name is off the current one. We have a baby due in January and we’ve been asking for over a year. Is there some sort of legal action we can take? Can we force her to sell it? He’s not asking her to buy him out or anything. She been approved to take the loan on herself, she just needs to proceed with taking his name off of the house which she is refusing to do!

DDaniel Cohen, Aug, 2020

Anne, I am not a lawyer, so what I share with you is not to be taken as legal advice.

There are two main issues, financial responsibility to pay for the loan and ownership of the home.

As long as your bf is listed on the loan, he remains financially responsible for the loan. Even if his ex makes every payment on her own, lenders are very likely to count the required monthly mortgage payment as part of his debt to income ratio, when determining his (and your joint) ability to pay a mortgage the two of you take out. You say she is approved for the loan in her own name, but won't take his name off of the house. If she does that, she is harming herself and resolving your problem, too, as long as the house is worth more than what is owed. She would remove his financial responsibility but leave his ownership stake in place. Lenders would not care if he is listed on the title, when judging the ability of the two of you to make payment on a new loan.

If she does refinance in her name only and your bf doesn't want to take advantage of her leaving his ownership stake in place, he can choose to quitclaim his interest in the property. The quitclaim process varies from state to state, so do a search for "quitclaim" and your state's name and focus on search results that are government websites. Look for the .gov in the URL.

MMarisa Schucker, Jul, 2014
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.
BBill, Jul, 2014
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.
BBrittany McDonell, Apr, 2014
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?
BBill, Apr, 2014
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.