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Do I have to pay my partner's debts?

Friday, 3rd July 2015

This question often crops up with some people believing that when partners live together and one or other cannot pay their debts then the other one is responsible for making the payment.  Let’s put the record on that and a few other things straight.

Debts in one name only

If someone has debts in their name only then they are the only one responsible for payment.

This also includes credit or store card debts because they are only in the name of  the person who signed the credit or store card agreement, any additional cardholder is not legally responsible for their payments.

Debts In joint names

For debts that are in joint names, then in the event that one person cannot pay, the other named person is responsible for the full amount outstanding. It is not split 50-50 just because it is in joint names. Nor is the amount of debt reduced according to which person has the least income. If the main wage earner cannot pay and the other named person has little or no income, that person is still jointly responsible for the debt in full, irrespective of their financial circumstances.

But I thought that as we live together I still had to pay my partner's debts?

You are not responsible for your partner's debts, only those in your name. If you owned a home together however and your partner was unable to make their agreed payments to their unsecured creditors then any of their creditors could take court action to get the debt secured on your partner's assets, which is usually the home.

Will my credit file be affected if my partner does not pay their debts?

You and your partner will be linked together if you have any financial connection, such as the rental agreement or mortgage in joint names or a joint loan. If you have a partner who has debt problems and with whom you have no financial connection then you may wish to consider disassociating yourself from their credit file. You can do this by writing to one of the credit reference agencies.

However, if you have an excellent credit history then the impact of your partner’s poor history might not actually affect the outcome of any of your credit applications although this will depend on the type of credit you are seeking and the amount involved. If however your credit history is less imposing then there is a greater risk that your partner's poor credit rating will affect any application you make.

Where can I get free debt advice and debt solutions with no fees?

You can click on the following link where you will get access to organisations that include the debt charities.

Take me to free debt advice agencies.

You can follow Mike on twitter by using @debtwizard



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