What Happens When You Marry Someone With Debt?
You’ve found a partner who you want to spend the rest of your life with, but their financial situation isn’t necessarily as healthy as it could be. While you’ve been diligent with paying down your debt and keeping a relatively healthy financial profile, your spouse might not necessarily be in the same boat. In fact, your spouse might have a ton of debt on the books that still requires quite a bit of financial dedication.
However, what happens when marrying someone with debt? Is a spouse responsible for credit card debt, or any other type of debt for that matter?
It’s a valid question since you do not want to assume someone else’s debt load, despite the fact that you are now married to this person.
Want to know if your relationship is financially successful? Read this.
Marriage and Debt – Who’s Responsible?
You’ll be happy to know that you are not responsible for any debt that was created before you got married. Any debt that your spouse accumulated prior to the marriage will not be your responsibility. Just because you marry someone with debt doesn’t mean it’s your liability now that you’ve tied the knot.
Legally, debt that is carried into a marriage is still the responsibility of the person who accumulated it. Some couples pay off separate debts together, but if they ever divorce, any remaining debt that was brought into the marriage will still be owed by the person who incurred it.
How would a divorce affect your mortgage? Find out here.
In addition, if the couple decides not to make payments on a specific debt, only the credit score of the spouse who incurred the debt will be affected.
That said, there are things you will want to do to protect yourself from ever having to claim responsibility for your spouse’s debt.
Understand What You’re Getting Yourself Into
Money tends to be one of the biggest issues that couples fight about, and it has often been the source of separation and divorce. As such, it’s absolutely essential that you have the necessary conversations about money – including debt – before you say “I do.”
You should also make sure to learn about consumer debt.
Asking your soon-to-be spouse about their finances can be a tough conversation to have, but it’s a necessary and important one nonetheless. In fact, this talk should probably be had long before you’re even engaged.
What About Debt That is Accumulated After You Get Married?
Unless both your name and that of your spouse are on the debt, only your spouse’s credit will be affected. Only those who have their name on a debt application are responsible for the debt. Having said that, if you place your name in a loan application as well, you will also be liable for that particular debt, and your credit score will be appropriately affected.
Speaking of marriage, check out these 5 crazy expensive celebrity engagement rings.
Don’t Combine Your Debt
Many married couples tend to open up joint bank accounts and pay their bills from the same account. But when it comes to debt, you should never merge it with your spouse’s. These burdens should always be kept separate, because once they are combined, you may be on the hook for it.
This is more common when it comes to credit cards. For example, if both you and your spouse had credit card debt before you got married, you might consider transferring both balances to a new credit card in an effort to take advantage of a lower interest rate. If you apply jointly for a new card and transfer both previous credit card balances, you are both liable for the entire amount.
Watch out! When managed irresponsibly, credit cards can lead to bad revolving debt.
Co-Signing Could Be Tricky
Once you’re married, it’s crucial that you are very careful about the types of expenditures you make together. More specifically, co-signing can turn out to be a real problem if you ever separate from your spouse at some point in the future and your ex racks up a ton of debt in both your names. You should only co-sign on a loan for your spouse if you’re 100% sure that your spouse is capable of making the payments, or you have no problem making the payments if your spouse is unable to.
Look here to know what happens when you can’t afford to make your loan payments on time.
You will also want to determine how any joint loans will be taken out. For instance, if you purchase a home together, think about whether or not the mortgage will be taken out in joint names. If you have a better credit score than your spouse, make sure you’re careful about assuming more debt while your spouse benefits.
Many people ask themselves the question; “If I marry someone with debt, does it become mine?” It’s a common question, especially with so many people far in debt these days. If you’re marrying someone who is currently carrying a lot of debt, you might be wondering if you will be responsible for your spouse’s debt once you get married. The good news is that you won’t be.
For some methods of managing your money after marriage, click here.
Unless your name is specified on the loan documents, you are free and clear of any debt obligations. However, in the case of death or divorce, things can start to get a little murky. Your best bet is to get some advice from a legal and financial professional to help you understand exactly where you stand as far as your spouse’s debt is concerned.