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Understanding how a person's bankruptcy can affect marriage

When Tennessee couples decide to get married, there are many factors to consider. Does the couple share the same values? Are they on the same page regarding children? Is one of the parties having financial struggles - particularly a past bankruptcy - that is concerning to the other party? Many people are scared at the prospect of marriage when their future husband or wife is struggling with bankruptcy. How will it affect the other person's good credit?

It is important to understand what happens after a couple gets married. Fortunately, a person's bankruptcy won't affect the other party directly. This means that the person's debt is their own. Credit reports don't automatically merge and make the other spouse liable for the debt.

Ideally, the bankruptcy won't still be in process at the time of the marriage. By then, most of the debts should be repaid and financial problems would be addressed so they don't recur.

One thing to consider, however, is that if the couple were to apply for a joint loan - such as for a home or car - the interest rate could be impacted based on the bankrupt party's poor credit. The lower the credit score, the higher the interest rate and monthly payment. The lender may not even put that spouse on the loan at all.

It takes time to restore good credit. The main goal should be to pay off debts and work toward using credit responsibly. It is also a good idea to review credit reports annually and look for any errors or information that has not been updated. Fixing mistakes early can raise a credit score and open the door to better loan rates.

Source: FOX Business, "Will Fiance's Old Bankruptcy Hurt my Credit?," Justin Harelik, Oct. 16, 2013

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