Paying Alimony? You May Want to Consider an FHA Insured Mortgage

UPDATE: You no longer have to FHA if you’re paying alimony... Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have updated their guidelines. Check it out here!

Most mortgage originators know that if you have less than 10 payments remaining with alimony or child support payments, it may not have to be factored into your qualifying ratios (debt to income) as long as the payment doesn’t impact your ability to pay the mortgage following closing.  A borrower needs to be well qualified with plenty of savings for an underwriter to support this guideline.

But it’s a little known nugget that lenders can choose to reduce alimony payments from the borrowers income instead of factoring it into the debt to income ratio utilizing an FHA insured loan.  Of course you would only do this if there is more than 10 alimony payments remaining.

“Since there are tax consequences of alimony payments, the lender may choose to treat the monthly alimony obligation as a reduction from the borrower’s gross income when calculating qualifying ratios, rather than treating it as a monthly obligation.”

For example, Mr. John Doe has a great job earning $250,000 annually.  Due to his recent divorce, he has reduced savings and is now paying his ex-wife $3,500 per month in alimony.   He has about $1,200 in monthly debt plus his existing house payment of $3,200 per month, which he plans on selling after he settles into his new home.  If you factor in his alimony, this totals $7,900 of monthly obligations.

He’s hoping to use an FHA High Balance mortgage to buy a home in Seattle priced at $585,000 with 5% down payment (he likes that at 5%, vs. the minimum 3.5% down, he receives a slight reduction in the annual mortgage insurance).

This morning’s rate for this scenario is 4.375% (APR 5.001) which would create a total monthly mortgage payment of $3,645.00 (principal and interest 2,837.21, mortgage insurance of 299.83, and taxes and insurance of 577.96).

EDITORS NOTE: The above rate was quoted from July 2010 and is no longer valid. If you would like to have a current rate quote for FHA or any mortgage program for homes located in Washington, please click here.

John’s monthly gross income is $20,833 (250,000/12).   His front end ratio is 17.5 (3645/20833) which is perfectly acceptable for qualifying with any mortgage scenario.   However, his back end ratio is 55.4 (7900+3645=11545/20833) if you treat his alimony as traditional debt as a conventional mortgage would.   Ideally, a back end ratio should be around 45, the limits can be pushed depending on the financial strength of the borrower and lender guidelines.

With FHA allowing alimony to be deducted from the gross income, the debt to income ratios are changed dramatically.

$20,833 monthly gross income less the $3,500 alimony is $17,333.

3645/17,333 creates a front end ratio (proposed mortgage payment divided by monthly gross income) of 21.03.

Monthly debt is reduced to $4,400 when the $3,500 alimony is not factored.  Add the proposed total monthly mortgage payment of $3,645 and the back end ratio is 46.41 (4,400+3,645=8,045/17,333).

Reducing the alimony from the gross income takes the debt to income ratio from 55.4 to 46.1 with an FHA insured mortgage.

If you need a mortgage for a home located in Washington state, please contact me.  I’ve been originating FHA, conventional and VA loans since April 2000 and Mortgage Master Service Corporation has been serving the Pacific Northwest for over 30 years!


  1. […] the other hand, if the alimony payment is considered a reduction in income, as is the case for certain FHA loans, then Mr. Doe’s income falls to $6,500 per month, and his resulting debt-to-income ratio is now […]

  2. […] If you are paying alimony, FHA mortgages allow the alimony to be deducted from the gross monthly income instead of treating it like a debt. (This can dramatically impact how much a borrower qualifies for). […]

  3. […] support and it’s continuing for 3 years; this is factored into your DTI as well. If you are paying alimony, you may want to consider an FHA loan as the alimony payment is treated […]

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