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If you own a house and you recently got married or are planning to soon, you and your new spouse may want to share the cost of the mortgage. You might think that you can simply contact your lender and add your spouse’s name to the mortgage, but the process is actually more complicated than that.

Why You’ll Need to Refinance Your Mortgage to Add Your Spouse’s Name
Any time a change is made to an existing mortgage, a refinancing process is required. Before the lender agrees to add your spouse’s name to the loan, the company will want to make sure that the two of you will be able to repay the loan. That means you and your new spouse will need to demonstrate that you’re both creditworthy.

How the Process Works
Before you try to make any changes to the mortgage, your spouse should request copies of his or her credit reports, check them for errors and dispute any inaccurate information. Then you can contact your lender and explain that you want to add your spouse to the mortgage.

You’ll have to fill out an application and submit documentation showing both your incomes and assets. The lender will consider that information, as well as how much home equity you currently have and the type of loan, to decide whether to refinance the mortgage.

Whether you stick with your current lender or apply for a mortgage from a different company, you aren’t guaranteed an approval just because you were granted a loan in the past. If a lender approves the application, any future mortgage statements will include both your and your spouse’s names.

Potential Problems
Whenever a mortgage is refinanced, the homeowner(s) have to pay for an appraisal and closing costs. Those could total thousands of dollars that you might not have been expecting to pay.

If your spouse has a low credit score because of high credit card balances, late or missed payments, bankruptcy, or foreclosure, the mortgage application could be rejected. The lender might decide to approve the application but charge a higher interest rate than you had for the initial loan, which could raise your monthly payments. Refinancing the mortgage could also change the payoff date.

Is Adding Your Spouse’s Name to Your Mortgage the Right Move, Right Now?
When planning a life with your new spouse, it’s natural to want to share expenses, but things can be complicated if you have different financial circumstances. Before you add your spouse’s name to your mortgage, make sure you understand how his or her financial situation could affect the terms of the loan. If your spouse has bad credit, it might be a good idea to wait until he or she has had time to bring up the scores before you seek a joint mortgage.