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Should you wait to marry until the bankruptcy is final?

Let us say that your intended, Charlie, has filed for bankruptcy protection. Will this affect your credit history? Will it affect your marriage?

Your mother is eager to help plan your wedding, but Dad is more cautious, urging you to delay until Charlie’s bankruptcy is over and done with. What should you do?

Keeping separate accounts

To begin with, his bankruptcy will not affect your credit history. Your score is separate from that of your fiancé. Even after you marry, you can maintain separate accounts. If Charlie files a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition, he will continue paying on his debts. If he qualifies for a Chapter 7, this should discharge most or all of his debts. However, it will not affect you if you maintain your own bank account and credit cards and keep other financial matters separate from his.

The mortgage issue

The one instance where you may contemplate commingling funds would be in the event you want to go together on the mortgage. There are two ways to look at this. If you apply for the mortgage together, you will probably be able to qualify for a larger loan. However, if you apply on your own, you will likely get a better interest rate than if Charlie’s poor credit is figured in.

Other considerations

Even if the mortgage is in your name alone, you and Charlie may want to open a household checking account from which you will pay monthly expenses. Since the account would be partially his, all the funds are vulnerable to creditors seeking payment. Also, if you and Charlie file a joint tax return and the bankruptcy leaves him with a tax lien, the IRS will take its due before it gives you the tax refund you were expecting.

Dad wins out

Much as you want to marry, you may come to the conclusion that it would be better to wait until after the bankruptcy process so that you know where Charlie and his finances stand. As you go forward in the marriage, you may also consider keeping your accounts separate, at least until you are comfortable that Charlie is in the black again and able to handle his own finances in a prudent manner.

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