Can You Get a Home Equity Loan Without Your Spouse Signing?

By Patrick Gleeson, Ph. D., Registered Investment Adv

Whether or not the property is in a community property state, most lenders will not make a home equity loan to one spouse alone.

If both spouses' names are on the title or deed of trust, both must sign to obtain a home equity loan. If only one spouse is on the title or deed of trust, it can be complicated to get a home equity loan with only one signature. It may depend on the state of residence.

Home Equity Loans on Joint Deeds

If you and your spouse are both signatories on the title or deed of trust for your home, ordinarily you both have equal and undivided shares in the property. Whether the property is in a community property rather than a common law state is irrelevant in this instance because the deed itself already establishes that the property belongs to the "community" -- that is, to both the husband and wife. In the absence of some other constraining document, such as a prenuptial agreement, this property not only belongs equally to the two parties, but the shares are undivided.

Because the shares are undivided, a home equity loan signed by only one spouse necessarily encumbers an ownership share by the other party and is illegal.

Home Equity Loans on a Solely Owned Residence

If a married couple reside in a home for which only one of the two parties holds title, the situation can get complicated, but the nature of the complication depends on the specific circumstances.

About the Author

Patrick Gleeson received a doctorate in 18th century English literature at the University of Washington. He served as a professor of English at the University of Victoria and was head of freshman English at San Francisco State University. Gleeson is the director of technical publications for McClarie Group and manages an investment fund. He is a Registered Investment Advisor.