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How do I handle pre-marriage debt?

Lemont, IL |

I am getting married this year, but our finances do not quite mingle. My fiancé has over $20,000 in credit card debt, which has not been paid on in over 2 years (most in collections). His credit score is suffering and he has no intention of paying the debt. He also has student loan debt at approx. $50,000. I have no credit card debt, but have a condo (in my name only) and significant student loan debt (about $60,000), but my payments are current and my credit score is high.

He has not obtained additional debt for the 2 years and has no intention to do so. I am concerned about my credit score and ‘inheriting’ his debt. I know my debt is not perfect, but at least it’s up-to-date.

We intend on filing taxes ‘married but filing separately,’ but are there any other precautions I can take to protect my financial background?

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Attorney answers 1


The general rule is that debts incurred prior to marriage, such as school loans, remain the separate debt of each party. Keeping your finances separate is a good idea. If you use his credit card for joint debt in the future, it gets hard to separate it. And even if the condo is in your name, if you both pay the mortgage, part of it may become marital (joint) property. In addition to filing taxes separately, I'd recommend a prenuptial agreement. Consult with a family law attorney who has experience with both drafting and enforcing prenups.

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