When you are getting a divorce, there are so many things changing. One of them is your living arrangements. So, if you are receiving alimony and/or child support, can you use this income to buy another house?

The answer is yes…but here are the rules.

Note: Read Our Top Five Mortgage Complaints!

Guidelines for using alimony and child support.

The guidelines state that child support and alimony has to continue for at least 3 years from the date of the application.

And they are not kidding on this.

I actually had a woman who was denied because her alimony would stop 2 weeks short of 3 years.

Also, if your kids turn a certain age like 18, or whatever you and your ex decided the age was to terminate child support, then it can’t be counted as income if it is within the 3 years.

Fannie Mae says you should be receiving the payments in full and on time for at least 6 months and FHA says you should be receiving them for the last 12 months. However, it depends on what the automated underwriting says so those time frames could be less.


They will document this by using your legal (signed by a judge) separation agreement or divorce decree stating how much is to be paid and for how long. That document is a must.

Other things they may ask for is proof of the money actually making it to you. Depending on what the automated underwriting asks for, you may have to provide bank statements, cancelled checks, or tax returns to show regular payments. If your ex is sporadic or late with his or her payments, those documents would show that and you would not be able to use that income.

Also the automated underwriting will look at how much child support or alimony income is compared to the rest of your income. If you are using almost all alimony or child support for your income, that may not fly. It depends on the automated underwriting decision and the lender so be sure to discuss that with your loan officer right up front.

Now you may ask, why would a person use income to qualify for a mortgage that is not going to continue for very long? Even 3 years is not a long time if you are depending on using that income to make sure your mortgage is paid.

In my client’s case above, she was receiving a substantial alimony check and was going back to school so when it stopped, she could get a good job and replace that money.

But it is something to consider. What if she couldn’t get a job after completing her education? If you buy a house or refinance using income from alimony or child support, consider a contingency plan or buy less of a house. What if your ex loses his or her job or gets in an accident or dies! If you are in a divorce right now you may think the dying part sounds pretty good (kidding…I’m kidding) and you may get your money through the legal channels eventually but what would you do until then?

Good Luck!


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