Marrying someone is more than just lovely romance: it’s about merging two lives, and with that comes a number of practical considerations. Where will you live? Do you want children? How will you manage your money? This last point is a source of contention in many marriages, and clear communication about finances is the key to navigating its difficulties.
If you didn’t have a frank conversation about finances before you got married, it’s not too late to have one now. Once you and your spouse have your credit scores in hand, and a good sense of what you both want, it’s time to settle in and be honest.
Your credit score from before the marriage and your spouse’s credit score from before the marriage won’t affect each other directly because your credit scores don’t automatically merge. It’s only once you open joint accounts and start adding each other as authorized users on credit cards that things get a little dicey. The truth of the matter is, your credit never merges with your spouse, but that doesn’t mean your partner’s credit can’t affect your credit.
If you open a credit card using your own credit score and then add your spouse as an authorized user, you’ll still be solely responsible for paying the credit card back. If you and your spouse both have good credit scores and good financial habits, it won’t be a problem, but if either of you have poor credit scores or a history of making questionable choices regarding money, you could be in trouble real quick. And this applies for all sorts of things – including cars and house mortgages. Don’t allow your partner’s low score to drag you down, but if it does consider consolidating debt with a loan, which should help to boost yours or your spouse’s score. Many companies, such as MaxLend, have less rigid borrowing options and can help you and your spouse make a fresh start.
Similarly, if you and your spouse co-sign on a line of credit, then you’re both responsible – not 50 percent each, but 100 percent each. The credit company will come after both of you, and 100 percent of the debt from that credit card will show up on both your credit score and your spouse’s credit score. Divorce courts can’t intervene and split that debt up, either; debt is between the lender and the lendee, and courts have no say in how it’s divvied up. So, the most important thing is that you don’t miss payments. Max Lend Loans notes on their Twitter, “Just because you’re short on funds doesn’t mean you’re short on options.”
If you aren’t yet married and your spouse has bad credit, get a prenuptial agreement. It might not seem very romantic, but it can smooth things out later and give you a solid place to start your conversation about money from. If you’re already married, leading experts recommend that you apply for cars, loans, etc. solely, based only on your own credit, rather than your credit and your spouse’s credit. This can also make divorce simpler; it makes the division of debt clear.
It’s understandable that if you’re married or planning on getting married, you’ll want to merge your finances; it’s one part of becoming a family. You won’t want to count on splitting up eventually, or assume that your partner has bad financial skills, but it’s still important to keep your credit score and personal finances in mind. Merging two people’s lives is always going to involve compromise, and while obviously you should be able to trust whoever you marry, peace of mind is priceless.