Couple discussing how they should approach their debt

Should I Help Pay My Spouse's Debt?

Marriage is often considered to be the blending of two lives and two families. Should it require the blending of debts as well?

Many couples handle their finances together, and as expected of married folks, make major financial decisions together. Are hefty loans a deal-breaker, or do you think you’d lend a hand? If you’re unsure about helping your spouse, read on.

Am I liable for his student loans?

These days, it wouldn’t be easy to find someone with absolutely no student loans.  Unless you live in a community property state, you aren’t legally responsible for any debt your partner incurred outside of your marriage. Unless you live in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin, you don’t have to worry about creditors coming after your assets or income for something your spouse had done. Liability comes into play once you and your spouse begin to apply for joint accounts.

What should you do if your spouse has a staggering amount of student loans? Some see the situation this way: they are benefitting from their partner’s high income, so they don’t mind helping them with the loans they used for medical school. Financial independence makes individual purchases less complicated, but if your significant other is saddled with loan payments, they may have more of a struggle.

How could we tackle debt together?

 Learning about your fiancé’s bad financial record can be stressful, but you can overcome debt together. First things first, don’t spend a fortune on the wedding, and definitely avoid loans to cover wedding expenses. Start early by discussing creating a plan and a budget. There are different approaches you can take towards lowering your debts.

Many swear by the snowball method. Arrange his loans from lowest to highest by sum, then aggressively focus on the first item on the list. Make sure that everything’s paid on time, but put any extra cash towards the lowest debt’s payment. You’ll be feeling strong after eliminating that first debt, so continue the pattern as you work on the next one. However, you may want to knock out the balance with the highest interest rate. The two of you could end up paying hundreds more by making a loan with a high-interest rate your lowest priority. While the snowball method isn’t best in that case, it works if you and your spouse need the motivation gained from little victories.

Last Updated: February 24, 2015