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Working with Support Income for Mortgage Financing
Divorce and mortgage financing concerns are often a touchy subject in divorce situations. Particularly when one spouse is dependent upon income awarded from the divorce for mortgage qualifying purposes and also when contingent liabilities are present, such as a jointly held mort-gage on the marital home.
Avoiding hurdles with mortgage financing in a divorce situation is easier when you have a better understanding of the potential challenges you may face when obtaining mortgage financing.
Income vs. Qualifying Income
Often times in a divorce and mortgage situation there are various types of income to consider: Employment Income; Alimony/Maintenance Income; Unallocated Maintenance Income; Child Support Income; Property Settlement Note Income; and more. Although all sources of income are considered “income” by the recipient, it is important to understand that from a mortgage financing perspective, not all sources of income are considered “Qualifying Income.”
In order to be considered as “Qualifying Income” certain requirements of each income source must be met. If you will need mortgage financing once the divorce is final, involving a mortgage professional who specializes in Divorce Mortgage Lending during the divorce process rather than post decree can potentially help avoid common pitfalls when “Income” is not considered as “Qualifying Income.”
Alimony/Maintenance, whether unallocated or allocated, along with child support must meet specific requirements to be considered as “Qualifying Income” for mortgage financing purposes by meeting both continuance and stability tests.
Continuance: A key driver of successful homeownership is confidence that all income used in qualifying will continue to be received by the borrower for the foreseeable future. You must be able to document that income will continue to be paid for at least three years AFTER the date of the mortgage settlement. Check for limitations on the continuance of the payments, such as the age of the children for whom the support is being paid or the duration over which alimony is required to be paid.
Stability: A review of the payment history is required to determine its suitability as stable qualifying income. To be considered stable income, full, regular, and timely payments must have been received for six months or longer, provided the income does not represent more than 30% of the total gross income used to qualify for mortgage financing. Income received for less than six months is considered unstable and may not be used to qualify for the mortgage. In addition, if full or partial payments are made on an inconsistent or sporadic basis, the income is not acceptable for the purpose of qualifying the borrower.
As an example: A borrower receives a monthly income of $6,000 from varying sources. ($2,500 employment income; $1,500 maintenance income; $2,000 child support) Maintenance income is awarded for 3 years and child support is awarded until each of two children turn 18 (currently ages 5 and 7.) Borrower has been receiving both maintenance and child support for 6 months at time of application. The maintenance income is not considered as “qualifying income” because it does not meet the continuance requirement of 3 years.
There are many components of income considered in mortgage financing. When income from a divorce situation also comes into play, working with a divorce mortgage professional during the divorce process rather than post decree can help attorneys and divorcing clients identify and possibly avoid income qualifying issues for mortgage financing . When the situation also involves income from other sources such as property settlement notes, asset distribution income, etc. there are additional layers of stability and continuity required.
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Divorce can be intricate, tricky and emotionally overwhelming. When you have to relocate, find new housing and decide to rent or purchase a new home, you pile on additional tasks and frustration.
Many divorcing spouses understand the financial benefits of owning a home rather than renting. While obtaining mortgage financing on any given day may often times involve a lot of paperwork and challenges, doing so during a divorce may seem overwhelming and out of reach for many.
For many reasons, divorcing clients may decide to purchase a new home with cash rather than obtaining mortgage financing. New home buyers who are in a position to pay cash for the new home need to make sure it is the right decision financially as it may cost you the ability to deduct the mortgage interest deduction on future mortgages on the new home.
The mortgage interest deduction is divided into two categories: Acquisition and Home Equity Indebtedness. Acquisition Indebtedness is any mortgage obtained to either purchase (acquire) or significantly improve the home. Home Equity Indebtedness is any mortgage obtained for any other reason than acquisition indebtedness.
When a new homeowner buys their home with cash, they need to ask themselves what their intent was for paying cash. Was it to avoid having any type of mortgage financing? Was it because they currently were unable to obtain mortgage financing because of an ongoing divorce or they didn’t qualify because they were unable to meet the requirements to use maintenance or child support as qualified income? Maybe their debt to income was too high because of their obligation to pay spousal support?
When a new homeowner pays cash for their new home, they need to ask themselves what their intent was for not obtaining mortgage financing. If their intent is to take out a mortgage to replenish their cash reserves used to purchase the home, they need to know there is a time limit to do so. Otherwise they may risk losing any future mortgage interest deductions on the new loan.
Currently IRS Tax Guidelines have a 90-day window for new homeowners to apply for a new mortgage on a home purchased with cash in order for this new mortgage to be classified as Acquisition Indebtedness. If a new mortgage is not applied for during this initial 90-day window, any new mortgage will be categorized as Home Equity Indebtedness which has a mortgage limit of $100,000 and is currently non-tax deductible through the year 2025.
What every new homeowner who buys a home with cash needs to ask themselves is “What was your intent for paying cash?” If their intent is to obtain future mortgage financing to replenish their cash reserves, they should speak to a mortgage professional and financial advisor first in order not to disqualify their future mortgage interest deduction.
Always work with a Certified Divorce Lending Professional (CDLP) when going through a divorce and real estate or mortgage financing is present.
This is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal or tax advice. You should contact an attorney or tax professional to obtain legal and tax advice. Interest rates and fees are estimates provided for informational purposes only and are subject to market changes. This is not a commitment to lend. Rates change daily – call for current quotations.
Copyright 2020 Divorce Lending Association. No portion of this post may be reproduced without the written consent of the Divorce Lending Association