Common-Law Marriage and VA Loans

For many military members and their families, the dream of homeownership ranks high on the priority list. While VA loans offer incredible benefits, like no down payment and competitive interest rates, eligibility questions can arise, especially for couples living in common-law partnerships. Let’s navigate the intersection of common-law marriage and VA loans, helping you understand your options and unlock those homebuying possibilities.

First, understand the landscape:

  • Common-law recognition: Not all states recognize common-law marriages. Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia do, with varying requirements for cohabitation, public representation as spouses, and shared finances. Familiarize yourself with your state’s specific laws.
  • VA loan eligibility: The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will recognize your common-law marriage for loan purposes only if the state you reside in does. This means meeting both your state’s and the VA’s eligibility criteria.

Meeting the criteria:

  • State requirements: Gather evidence proving your common-law partnership according to your state’s definition. This might include joint tax returns, shared bank accounts, property deeds, or affidavits from third parties confirming your relationship.
  • VA requirements: You and your partner must meet standard VA loan eligibility, including credit score, service history, and income verification. The VA also requires proof of your common-law marriage, often in the form of the aforementioned documentation.

Additional considerations:

  • Tax implications: Common-law marriages may not offer the same tax benefits as legal marriages, so consult a tax professional before proceeding.
  • Estate planning: Without a legal marriage, estate planning becomes crucial to protect your partner’s inheritance rights. Seek legal counsel to draft wills and other necessary documents.

Taking action:

  • Talk to a VA loan specialist: They can guide you through the eligibility process and help gather the required documentation.
  • Contact a lawyer: Ensure your common-law relationship meets your state’s legal requirements and consider legal documentation for added protection.
  • Explore alternative paths: If your state doesn’t recognize common-law partnerships, consider a legal marriage or alternative loan options with higher down payments.


  • Homeownership remains a fantastic goal for military families. While navigating common-law marriage and VA loans might require additional steps, it’s certainly achievable with thorough research, informed planning, and support from professionals.

Ready to turn your homeownership dream into reality? Reach out to Ready Front Real Estate at (737) 276-1953. Broker-Owner and fellow military veteran Raoul Rowe is dedicated to helping military families secure their perfect homes. Visit our website,, to get started and unlock your path to homeownership.

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