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
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.
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
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