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, focused on creating and delivering valuable educational materials that help families through everyday and extraordinary financial challenges.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.