Divorce Considerations / CMHC changes rules on refinancing after divorce.


When tough times put stress on families sometimes the end result is divorce. While no one ever wants to see this happen sometimes it is inevitable. Lately CMHC changed the rules about how much a house can be refinanced for, they have set the limit at 80% of the property value so that refinances would no longer fall under the insured mortgages. What they also did was set some guidelines for couples who are divorcing. When a partnership in a home is being dissolved, that partnership can be a marriage, common in law relationship or simply two owners of a property, it is now considered a sale. This means that the existing mortgage will most likely be paid out or in some cases one of the spouses can assume that mortgage and possibly increase the amount. Most likely it will mean that one spouse will purchase the home from the other. Here’s the difference when we are in this situation, the home can be purchased with just 5% down payment again as it doesn’t fall under the refinance rule.

One other thing to consider under the divorce rules is child support, as many parents have learned lately child support and section 7 spousal support are liabilities for many lenders. So if you do have a 2000 dollar a month support payment then that is the same as having a 2000 dollar car payment. Not all lenders are looking at that the same, some have allowed us to reduce the yearly incomes buy the amount of child support. The biggest difference here is of course that the reduction allows you to qualify for more mortgage, it’s just a matter of knowing

which lenders work the system which way and a skilled mortgage broker will know the difference. Ideally of course the divorce never happens but one way around child support being paid is joint custody where it is shared 50/50 and no liability is forced upon either spouse allowing them to maximize their purchasing power as the start their new lives.

What also needs to be considered is that this needs to be done in writing, separation agreements are legal binding documents that tell the lenders what your responsibility is to the other partner in the divorce. We have also had situations where a statutory declaration saying that you have no responsibility to the other partner has been sufficient especially in cases of common law separations. So many ins and outs to be considered when embarking on dividing your house holds and of course we would always advise legal counsel first and then talk to your mortgage brokers about what is required for the mortgage process. 

Martin Darknell

Martin Darknell

Chartered Real Estate Agent
CENTURY 21 PowerRealty.ca
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