Will My Spouse’s Debt Affect My Credit Score

Credit reports do not indicate your marital status, nor will they include your spouse’s identity or any account they hold independently.  Therefore, if your partner has bad credit it doesn’t have to drag your credit score down.

 

However, your partner’s credit score could still cause financial challenges for the two of you, especially if you want to borrow a loan or open a credit card together.

 

Here are some things to consider:

 

  • If you have a joint credit account with your spouse, and he or she fails to make payments on-time, the late payments will appear on both of your credit reports and can lower your credit score.
  • Your spouse’s low credit score could impact your application for joint credit, such as a new car loan or a mortgage. The lender may consider the joint loan a risk, which could result in the loan being offered at a higher interest rate or with stricter borrowing terms.
  • Even if you aren’t late on a bill, a joint account can still hurt your credit score if the credit utilization is not optimally managed. Remember, the ideal balance shouldn’t be higher than 30% of the credit limit at any point in time.
  • Your spouse’s credit can also affect your credit if you are an authorized user on their credit cards.  If they failed to make on-time payments in the past, or keep high balances on that account, it could negatively affect your credit report and score – as all of the history associated with that account is imported into your credit report. 

Your spouse’s individual loans, credit cards, etc. that you have not signed for should not affect your credit score.

 

If you have questions or need guidance, THD can help. Give us a call at (800) 822-7120.

 

-Erik Kaplan

Are you liable for your spouse’s debt?

Whether you are liable for your spouse’s debts depends on factors such as;  if you live in a common-law state or a community property state and what kind of debt it is. 

Common-Law State or a Community Property State

The IRS says most states operate under what is called common law. If a married couple opens a joint account or gets a shared credit card, they will both be responsible for paying back the debt.

In common law states, you’re usually only liable for credit card debt if the obligation is in your name. So, if the credit card is only in your spouse’s name, you’re typically not liable for that debt. Additionally, assets acquired by one member of a married couple are typically deemed to belong to that person, unless they were put in the names of both.

The laws are very different in America’s nine community property states, where the laws require that any property acquired, debt accumulated, and income earned during the marriage is the property or debt of each spouse.

What Kind of Debt is It?

In most states, you are not legally responsible for bills racked up before getting married. However, if you and your spouse open a joint account or get a shared credit card, you both will be responsible for paying back the debt.  Even if the spending was done solely by your spouse. 

Similarly, If you’re the cosigner on a loan for your spouse, your credit score will be hurt if your partner misses a payment. That’s because when you cosign for a loan, you’re signing on to be equally responsible for the debt. If they miss payments, the debtor could come after you for payments. The same situation applies if you and your spouse use a joint credit card.

In Common law states, property can be individually owned unless both names are on the contract. However, in community property states, assets and liabilities that either person acquires during the marriage become the joint property of both spouses. 

There are some exceptions for necessary joint household expenses. Debt that was racked up for things like child care, housing or food must be shared by both parties, even if a joint account was not created.

If you have any questions at all please call us at (800) 822-7120.

-Erik Kaplan