HELP WITH DEBT

Joint debt

HELP WITH DEBT

Joint debt

Can joint debt affect my credit score?

In short: yes, it can. Although your joint debt won’t merge into one credit score, when you take on a debt with someone, your credit reports will become linked and the debt will show up on each one.

There are some positives. If you and your partner are diligent about paying back your joint debts, it can be a good thing for both of you – as it demonstrates that you’re a good risk for lending.

On the other hand, there’s also more risk attached – because if either of you misses a payment or defaults on the agreement, it will affect both of your credit scores. Ultimately, this can be damaging to your credit score – and make it more challenging to get credit in the future.

I’ve split up with my partner or spouse. Am I only responsible for my half of our joint debt?

No, you’re both responsible for the full balance of your joint debt. If one person decides to shy away from their obligation to the debt, the other person will become solely responsible for paying it back.

This is provided for in most, if not all, financial agreements, and is known as ‘joint and several liability’.

If you’ve been left with joint debt, our best advice would be to try to reach an agreement with the other person to repay the debt. We understand this isn’t always possible – for example if your relationship ends on bad terms, or if one side isn’t able to keep up with payments.

In these situations, it can be helpful to reach out to a debt advice specialist.

I’m recently married. Will my debts become joined with those of my spouse?

No. You’ll still be responsible for any debts you’ve taken out in your own name, before and after your marriage.

It’s a common misconception that once you’re married, your and your spouse will share a joint credit report.

However, if you do decide to take on debts in both your names and one of you doesn’t have good credit, the other person’s score may be affected.

I’m being chased for a joint debt that I didn’t sign up for, what can I do?

Contact the lender directly and ask them for a copy of the original contract. If it doesn’t contain your signature or you don’t recognise it, it could mean you’ve been a target of fraud.

We can offer you guidance on this, but it’s also a good idea to reach out to a legal professional to make sure you’re getting the best possible advice.

What happens to joint debts if my spouse or family member dies?

If you have any joint debts with a spouse or family member who has died, the debt will become your sole responsibility. This will also be the case if you were a guarantor for a debt owed by the deceased.

And if you jointly own your home, lenders may try to claim half of any equity in the property to help repay your debts.

If you’ve been left with the responsibility of a joint debt and are struggling to pay it, we can help. Our advisors are on hand to make sure you have the best possible debt advice. Get in touch today for free, confidential debt advice, and find a way to deal with your debts that works for you.

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