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Tips for Using Child Support to Qualify for a Mortgage

April 29, 2013

Child Support Payments May Count as Income

Child support payments can be added to your regular income from your job or other sources and be used to qualify for a mortgage. These payments boost your overall monthly income, which means you may be eligible for a bigger mortgage than you thought. And that means you can afford a larger or nicer home for yourself and your family. 

Below are the primary conditions that have to be met in order for your child support checks to qualify as income on your mortgage application. For the most part, you have to document a history of payments and prove that those payments will continue for 3 more years.

Six months of payments in the past.

If there is an underlying agreement of a court order of support or divorce decree, and a payment history or six months before the date on which you submit your mortgage loan application, you should be able to include child support as income on your mortgage application. This means you have to have received the full amount of child support regularly for the past six months. Sporadic payments don’t count, nor do payments that are less than the legally-decreed amount as determined by your divorce or separation agreement. You’ll need to be able to document receipt of these payments.

Helpful Hint: Each time you receive a child support payment, deposit the check as soon as possible and in full. Don’t keep cash out or deposit the check along with other checks. You’ll need to have a clean record of receipt of your child support payments, and the best way to do that is through your bank records and deposit slips. Don’t muddy the paper trail; deposit each check in full as soon as you receive it. It may also be helpful to make a copy of each check before you deposit it.

Some states are set up to help enforce the payment of child support. If your child support payments come to you through the state, you can use documentation from the state to show that the payments are being made on time and in full. In those cases, for example, the state of MO Child Support Enforcement has a link to document payment history of their cases, which is available here. Each recipient is required to obtain an 8 digit key code to access their account.

Three years of payments going forward.

You also have to be able to prove that you expect your child support payments to continue for an additional three years from the date you submit your mortgage application. Most child support payments continue until the child turns 18. So if you’re applying for a mortgage and you have a 16-year-old, you won’t be able to include child support payments because they’ll only continue for another two years.

If you have children of varying ages, you may be able to split your child support and use the portion that applies to the younger ones if the older ones are getting ready to “age out.” Consult with your mortgage loan officer to determine what’s allowed in your situation.

Helpful Hint: Documentation is essential when proving that your child support payments are anticipated for another three years. Make sure you know where all your paperwork is, and use one of the following to verify the expected continuation of child support payments for your mortgage loan officer:

  • A divorce or separation agreement that mandates the amount of your child support payments and the length of time they’re in effect.
  • A written decree, court order, or other document that outlines child support payment requirements.

Voluntary Child Support

While it’s not common, some ex-spouses do make voluntary child support over and above what’s mandated by the divorce decree. While this is good news for you and your children, voluntary payments are not allowed as income when applying for a mortgage. The simple reason for this is that they’re voluntary; they’re not mandated by a legal document. While they do help with monthly bills, they don’t fall under the rules noted above and don’t count as income for mortgage qualification.

A Note about Alimony Payments

Dad Daughter Child Support

Alimony payments – payments made to an ex-spouse to maintain a certain standard of living after divorce – are separate from child support payments, but also fall within the realm of income. As long as they meet the criteria noted above (having been received consistently and in full for the past six months and with the expectation that they’ll continue for another three years), they can be included as income when qualifying for a mortgage.

If, however, your alimony payments are in jeopardy – for instance, if your spouse has filed a request to reduce or discontinue them – your mortgage lender will not consider them as income for mortgage qualification.

We Are Here to Help

Homestead Financial Mortgage wants to help you get into the home of your dreams. For over ten years, we’ve been working with customers in St. Louis, MO; Overland Park, KS; and Godfrey and Glen Carbon, IL. We’d love to work with you, too. We’re licensed in eight states (Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Indiana, Colorado, Florida, and Arkansas), and we can help you find a home that’s a perfect fit for your family’s needs.

If homeownership is a dream of yours, don’t let your single status hold you back. Talk to one of our expert mortgage loan officers to see if your child support payments can help you qualify for a mortgage. You might be surprised at the possibilities you uncover!

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