Mortgage lenders verify information regarding your marital status to the extent that it impacts your ability to repay a home loan. You must disclose whether you are married and provide information about dependents and divorce if these circumstances apply to you. A lender may only use your marital status to support information regarding financial obligations and assets. Federal laws prohibit mortgage lenders from discriminating against you based on your marital status.
Your lender determines your marital status based on what you state on the Uniform Residential Loan Application. You need not supply the lender with additional documentation, such as a marriage certificate, and no further verification by the lender is required to establish your status. The application requires you to select one of the following options: "Married," "Separated" or "Unmarried" -- which also describes single, divorced and widowed applicants. You also verify whether you are using a co-borrower's income and assets, including a spouse's, to qualify for the loan.
The lender verifies whether you currently own or recently owned any other homes with a spouse or ex-spouse. Jointly-held mortgage obligations matter to lenders because if your spouse or ex fails to make those payments, you will be held responsible, which can hurt your ability to make payments on a new loan. The inability to pay a previous mortgage can lead to bankruptcy, foreclosure and liens on a new property.
When applying for a loan with a spouse, you both provide previous income information. The lender verifies incomes with recent tax documents and pay stubs. They also review your credit histories and ask for your most recent addresses. Inconsistencies between your application and what appears on your credit and income documentation may require a letter of explanation. For example, say your credit reports and income tax returns show distinct addresses that don't match the shared address listed on your application. One reason might be that you've recently married, which you'd point out in the letter of explanation.
If divorced, the lender may require a divorce decree and official documents showing how you and the ex settled your liabilities and assets. They also want to know if you owe child support or alimony, how much you owe and for how long you must pay it. However, you need not disclose this as income, unless you use it to qualify for a loan. If separated and buying a home without your spouse, the lender requires legal-separation documents, and your spouse must quit her claim to the new property. It's typically harder to qualify for a mortgage with a recent divorce or separation when you still carry financial obligations from a previous relationship.
- Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images