A home equity loan is fairly simple low-cost way to get financial flexibility. It can give you the funds needed to consolidate debt, make home improvements or pay any other significant expense. While you can get a home equity loan without your spouse as a co-borrower, you can’t get it without his consent. Even if his name isn’t on the deed, if the property used as collateral is your marital residence, the spouse must agree to the loan.
The common scenario where a spouse would seek a loan without the signature of the other is where one spouse has excellent credit and low debt, while the other is deeper in debt with a lower credit score. In this case, you can apply for the loan without your spouse. The lender will qualify and approve the loan based on your income and credit. Your spouse will have to sign the mortgage or a spousal consent form, but the obligation will be on you alone.
When you are legally married, your primary residence becomes your marital residence. If you own a separate property, such as a vacation home or a rental property, you can get a home equity loan using that house as collateral without your spouse’s knowledge or consent. However, if you want a home equity loan on that primary residence, your spouse will need to be involved one way or another.
Once the loan is approved, you will set a date for closing. At closing, you will sign all relevant loan documents. Without your spouse on the loan, you will sign all the loan documents, including the mortgage if the collateral property is not a marital residence. However, if the property is a marital residence, your spouse will have to either sign the mortgage or a spousal consent form which states that he is aware of and consents to the home equity loan. Even though he will sign a loan document, he is only pledging collateral, not obligating himself to repayment of the loan.
It is nearly impossible to get a home equity loan on a jointly owned or marital residence without your spouse’s consent. If you somehow manage to get through the closing process, your spouse can take legal action against the lender. Additionally, in a divorce proceeding, the judge will find you alone liable for the debt, which can affect the amount of assets you would receive in a settlement.