Debt consolidation and marriage

Ask the Experts: I'm married but I only want to consolidate MY debt - can I?

Can I consolidate debt as an individual if I'm married? I don't want to affect my wife’s credit score. And would the IRS be one of the creditors I can consolidate? – Camron

Hi Camron,

Joint finances can be a little complicated, especially because different states have different laws which could potentially change who’s responsible for what.

Generally speaking, however, if you opened a credit or loan account on your own (meaning yours is the only name appearing on the documentation and you’re the only one who signed the agreement), either before or during marriage, it usually is not listed on your spouse’s credit report. Again, it will depend on the state where you live.

So if you have debts where your wife is not a co-signer and you choose to close and payoff those accounts through some form of consolidation loan or debt management plan, your wife’s credit score should most likely be unaffected.

If any of the debts in question are in your spouse’s name, on the other hand, then any attempt to consolidate or settle those debts would impact their credit and would very likely require their authorization to complete.

If you have issues with unpaid taxes, your best bet is to speak with a qualified accountant to discuss your options. If you are opening an unsecured consolidation loan in the hopes of using those funds to repay some form of tax debt, you may be better off discussing a repayment plan directly with the IRS. The loan funds could be used to repay the tax debt, but you should still weigh the terms of the loan versus the terms of a potential repayment plan first.

Good luck!

Jesse Campbell is the Content Manager at MMI. All typos are a stylistic choice, honest.