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WILL YOUR PARTNER’S DEBTS AFFECT YOU?

One of the most common concerns our customers express is whether their debts will

affect their partner. With many myths associated with marriage and debt we thought

we’d put together a blog post explaining everything you need to know about how

your partners debt will affect you.


Marriage and debt

It is commonly believed that when you get married, your credit record will link up with

your spouse’s creating a joint file. This is not actually the case. Only joint credit will

link you and your spouse together so marriage alone is not enough to impact your

credit rating.


Another common myth associated with marriage is that once a partner changes their

last name, their credit history is deleted and their file starts again. This is false – your

credit history will remain the same, the only difference to your file will be your new

name which will have been added as an alias. If you have recently got married you

will have to inform your creditors of this name change in order for it to appear on

your file. Only once creditors have updated their information will your credit record

change to reflect this.


Joint debts

Whilst marriage is not enough to link you and your partner’s credit files, joint credit

applications will make an association between you and your partner. Whether you

open up a joint account, apply for a joint credit card or get added to an account with

your partner, all of these scenarios will join you and your partner together. While this

can be great for couples who have a solid financial history, if you or your partner has

a background of defaults it can affect the other’s file.


Even if your joint accounts are up to date and you have no current issue with debts,

when you establish a joint account your partner becomes financially associated.

Should you or your partner have a wobbly credit history it might be best for you both

to keep your finances separate and work on rebuilding the credit file in need.


Secret financial lives

Despite the effect that your partner’s debt can have on your own ability to access

loans or services, a surprisingly high number of people fail to discuss their debts with

their loved ones. When research as conducted last year into mental health and

money problems, it was discovered 80% of people wouldn’t tell their partners about

their debts because they were worried about how they would react.

Financial privacy is one thing, but if secret debts threaten the stability of the whole

household then it can be a real issue – and an added strain on a relationship. Before

linking your finances with a partner it is important you ensure you know about their

credit history.


Could you be liable for your partner’s debts?

One thing that scares a lot of people is whether they are personally liable for their

partner’s debts. For the most part, you can only be held responsible for debts that

are in your name or held jointly in your name – so if you have a shared credit card or

bank account with an overdraft then you should check the balance regularly.

If you and your partner are jointly liable for debts then that doesn’t mean you owe

just half the money – the creditor can demand either of you repay the full amount if

they can’t get it from the other account holder.


Having said that, if you share a mortgage and your partner is facing bankruptcy then

this can have an effect on your stability, although you should be able to protect your

half of any equity in the property. The best thing to do is get advice as soon as you

know there is a problem; call or email us or encourage your partner to get in touch.


When a partner becomes an ex

There are many reasons why relationships fail and the stress caused by debt is a

common one. However, if your partner has a lot of unpaid debt and moves out, you

may find that debt collectors and bailiffs pursue them at your address. This can be

quite scary but you need to stand firm and not allow the debt recovery professionals

into your home. Explain that the debts are not yours and that your ex-partner no

longer lives at this address.


Talk to us

If you’re struggling with debt and are worried about telling your partner, or if you’re

worried that your partner’s own debt situation needs some proper management then

it’s time to get some informed debt advice.


Our qualified, compassionate advisers have experience in helping both individuals

and households deal with their debts and they can help you work out the best

solution for your financial difficulties. That may be an Informal Arrangement or

something more formal like a Debt Agreement, but until you take some advice it can

be hard to see a way out of the debt you’re in.


Ring us now on 1300 912 197. It’s free and we can help you plan your way out of

debt.

Debt Savvy Pty Ltd ABN: 34 628 338 885, is an affiliate of Australia Wide Administrators Pty Ltd - RDAA#1658