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Marital Credit Combining the Good and the Bad

Joining together good credit and bad credit in marriage

We recently had a reader post this common question about the impact of marriage on credit reports and scores online today:

I have a question about melding excellent credit and terrible credit scores when two people get married. Can creditors come after a new spouse for their partner’s debt? Will the bad credit history of one spouse ruin the good credit of the other?

Nothing automatically happens to your credit reports and credit scores when you tie the knot. Your credit reports and credit scores will remain independent. One person’s bad credit scores will not ruin the other person’s good credit scores.

There are two things that could possibly change on your credit after you get married: 1) If you change your name, your new last name will be posted on your credit reports. 2) If you open any joint or co-signed accounts with your spouse, these records will be reported on both your credit reports. Be careful about opening up shared accounts. If the account is not managed responsibly, both your credit reports could be damaged.

The debt question is a bit more complicated. In general, a creditor cannot hold you responsible for a spouse’s individual debts. There are exceptions in certain states if the debt was incurred as a “family expense or if you live in a community property state and have a right to a property used as the debt’s collateral. You may want to research your state’s specific laws or talk to an attorney about your specific situation.

Do you have a credit question? Know of a great money management tip for newlyweds? Share your questions and feedback in the comments section below. We are constantly searching for articles relating to debt management, savings opportunities, credit cards, consumer loans and financial freedom, feel free to contact us anytime.