Before marrying someone, it is a good idea to make sure you know that person inside and out, which includes knowing about how much debt they are bringing into the marriage. This can mean credit card debt, real estate debt, car payments, and even student loan debt. Let’s face the facts, just about everyone with a college degree today has some sort of student loan debt. Before you tie the knot, you should know just how much student loan debt they have, and how this can affect you. Let’s take a closer look at the impact of marrying someone with student loans.
What Happens When You Marry Into Student Loan Debt
When marrying into student loan debt, you may be wondering if this debt is something you are jointly responsible for from the moment you say “I do”. For the most part, student debt incurred before marriage remains the responsibility of the associated spouse. In some cases, student loan debt can fall on the responsibility of the spouse who didn’t incur the debt. In the case of death, responsibility for private loan debt could be transitioned to a spouse. Additionally, if the spouse cosigned any loans, then they will also be responsible for as little as a missed payment. If separate spousal student debt is consolidated together through a private bank, then one spouse could take responsibility of both student debt portfolios. While this could be a full transition, the other spouse could still cosign on refinanced loan to share responsibility.
Even if you did not cosign with your spouse, if you live in a state that is considered a community property state, student debt in general may be the responsibility of the other spouse. For instance, if your spouse has loans that have gone into default, yet they do not have any wages to garnish to repay them, then your income may be used as a source of repayment. This may not seem fair, but it is the way things work in community property states.
Can Marrying Into Student Debt Hurt Your Credit Score?
Now that you know how responsibility falls when it comes to marrying into student loan debt, you may question whether or not your credit score may be affected. The good news is that your spouse’s student loans should not have any direct affect whatsoever on your personal credit score. With that being said, if you did any sort of cosigning with consolidation or refinancing, then it can and will affect your credit score. As long as your spouse only has individual student loans under his or her name, however, they will not be reflected on your credit score.
What Should You Do?
It is pretty impossible to just tell your heart that you aren’t going to marry someone because they have student loans. We all know that you just don’t tell your heart who to love. With that being said, should you walk away from someone just because they have student loan debt? Surely not, although there are some people out there that would say don’t walk, but run! The good news is there are some things you can do to protect yourself while still supporting your spouse and helping them chip away at their student loan debt.
When you get married, if you are going to be working together to pay off debt and live as one, then you may want to help your spouse get rid of that student loan debt. You may consider ways to help them by either paying off their loans faster or lowering their interest rates through consolidation and/or refinancing. Whatever you do to help will be beneficial, because the quicker you can get the loans paid off, the easier it will be to look toward your financial future being bright and healthy.
Just remember, once you get married, a lot of financial decisions will be joint financial decisions. Student loan debt can be a hindrance, especially if there are missed payments, or defaulted loans that result in a hit to your credit score. While there are ways to repair credit, it is much easier to damage it than to fix it. Try to start your marriage off on the right foot.