When We Get Married Does My Partner's Debt Become My Debt (3 Minute Debt Break)

2023-07-31  3 minute read

Lifestyle Debt


or richer… or for poorer? That is the question. Or put another way... when you get married, does your partner’s debt become your debt? 

couple meeting with their financial advisor

Many Canadians enter marriage with a sizable debt burden from both parties. Adding to the problem is many people view their finances as private. So private, that sometimes they may not even discuss their debt openly before walking down the aisle.

The first and most important thing to know is you will not automatically become responsible for your partner's pre-existing debt when you get married. The debts you took out in your name will remain your debts. The debts your partner took out in their name will remain theirs. This doesn't necessarily mean things will always be easy. As a couple, you will need to make numerous financial decisions together. 

The situation can become more complicated in cases where both spouses' names are on a credit account. You will each share equal liability for that debt. If one of you fails to make payments, the lender has a right to pursue the other for the money.

It’s important to know that when adding a spouse as a cardholder or authorized user for your credit cards and accounts, their spending habits will have a direct impact on your credit report. If they use the debt irresponsibly or fail to make the required payments, it will negatively affect your credit rating – even if you've never used the account yourself.

While it may seem easier to simply avoid acquiring joint debts, that may not always be possible. Some lenders will require both spouses to sign jointly for or guarantee new debt – including for mortgages, car loans, high limit loans or lines of credit. So, understanding how effectively you and your significant other can manage credit will be a significant consideration throughout your marriage.

The single most important conversation two people can have prior to tying the knot is the one about money and debt. It's not necessarily romantic – or fun or easy – but it will lay the groundwork for many future decisions, plans and experiences you'll share together. Hopefully for many years to come.

If you've found yourself in a situation of unmanageable debt because of a divorce or relationship breakdown, a Licensed Insolvency Trustee can help. During a Free Confidential Consultation, they will review your entire financial situation to determine your options. Your trustee can advise which debts you're responsible for and which ones you're not. They can also help you decide whether a Life-Changing Debt Solution is right for you – putting you on the path to the financial fresh start you need.


Subscribe to MNP 3 Minute Debt Break on your favourite streaming service.

 Listen on Apple Podcasts  Listen on Spotify  Listen on YouTube
 Listen on Google Podcasts  Listen on tune in  Listen on SoundCloud
Consultation icon