New spouse’s old debt won’t hurt your credit scores

Dear Experian,

If I have a very good credit score and I marry someone with a bad credit score and previous debt, does that affect my credit score?



Dear DTR,

Getting married does not affect your credit scores or your individual credit reports. Experian will continue to maintain separate credit reports for you and your new spouse. Your spouse’s previous bad credit history will not be merged with your credit history.

That said, if you become a joint account holder on any of those accounts, the missed payments will show up on your report because as a joint account holder you agree to share full responsibility for the debt.

The same is true for new accounts you open as joint holders during the marriage. Any accounts that list both you and your future spouse as account holders will affect both your report and his, regardless of who uses the account or pays the bills.

Even if you maintain separate credit histories, your spouse’s previous bad credit could affect your ability to qualify for new loans. Lenders will take both credit histories into account when reviewing joint applications, so those late payments could affect your ability to qualify for something like a mortgage.

Bad credit isn’t necessarily a reason to not get married, but financial stress can cause a marriage to fail. It is always a good idea to have a serious conversation about your credit situations and finances prior to the wedding day. Since you will likely be applying for accounts jointly in the future, you want to be aware of where you both stand and how you differ in your approaches to financial management.

Doing so can help minimize conflict and stress after the honeymoon is over.

Thanks for asking.

- The “Ask Experian” team

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