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Does my spouse's credit rating affect me?

Posted by Jill Boynton  April 20, 2010 10:41 AM

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This is a question often asked by newlyweds: After marriage, does a good or bad credit rating of one spouse affect the other spouse?

The answer is that one spouse does not affect the other spouse directly. You continue to maintain your own credit rating and credit history regardless of whether you get married or divorced (and is also not affected by a name change after either event.) Credit that has been taken out in your name alone goes into the making of your individual history.

However a spouse's rating can indirectly affect you, by affecting your ability to establish a joint liability. For instance, suppose you want to take out a joint credit card or a mortgage. If one party has a poor credit score it might affect your rate. In this circumstance the spouse with the better score could take out the loan in his or her name alone.

Something else to consider is why one spouse has a low credit score. Does that person have poor credit habits, making payments late or building up a lot of debt? In this case you might want to keep all of your credit separate. Both parties on a joint loan are liable for the debt, regardless of who is responsible in your eyes for making the payments, and it affects both your credit scores.

On the other hand, taking out a joint loan and making sure you stay current may be a way to help the spouse with a poorer score to boost his or her numbers.

It is important for both spouses or partners to be upfront and honest about their credit history. It could affect your ability to save together for retirement, vacation, or other goals.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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ABOUT MANAGING YOUR MONEY
Local finance professionals share insights and advice on issues such as budgeting, managing debt, and retirement planning.

About the contributors

D. Abraham Ringer is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner and a Financial Adviser with Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management in Boston. He is registered in MA, NH, NY and several other states to which his articles are directed. For more information please visit www.morganstanleyfa.com/ringer
Financial Planning Association™ of Massachusetts has 900 members who specialize in the financial planning process. Many of its members engage in philanthropic pro bono work in their communities, recommend legislation, elevate public awareness, promote financial literacy, and advocate for sound economic and tax policies.
Odysseas Papadimitriou is the founder of CardHub.com, a credit card and gift card marketplace, and WalletHub.com, a personal finance site. He has more than 13 years of experience in the personal finance industry, and previously served as senior director at Capital One.

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