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Will My Spouse’s Bad Credit Hurt My Credit Score?

By Philip Tirone

One of our readers recently sent us a great question: “If I marry someone who has declared bankruptcy this year, will it lower my credit score?”

She went on to say that her credit is currently golden. So when she marries her fiancé, she worries about what is going to happen to that great credit score. It’s a common worry, but the good news is that you and your spouse will retain separate credit files. Marrying someone with bad credit won’t hurt your credit in and of itself. And if you are already married to someone who experiences credit issues, your score will not be affected, so long as you protect yourself. It works like this: If Joe has a credit card in his name only, his credit score will suffer if he makes a late payment, but his wife Jane’s credit score won’t be affected at all. But if Jane and Joe have a joint credit card, and Joe makes a late payment, both of their scores will suffer.

This is one of the reasons we always tell married people to keep separate credit files. (And you should definitely read this article for an explanation. It will make your finances and your marriage stronger.) This way, if one person in the marriage defaults, the other spouse still has strong credit, which the couple can then leverage. But if you have joint credit cards, mortgages, and car loans, what one person does on those accounts WILL affect the other person.

So no need to worry about your fiancé’s past mistakes. There’s no way it will hurt your credit score. But to protect yourself from any future credit problems, we strongly suggest that you don’t open joint accounts with your soon-to-be spouse. Instead, have him apply for secure credit cards and start the process of repairing credit after bankruptcy.

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