Typically individual credit issues will remain with the individual. Exceptions to this include when the individual account has been guaranteed, commonly "co-signed" by another individual. In these instances the co-signor's credit will also be affected by the actions of the original debtor.
When you get married, your individual credit will likely remain your own individual credit, unless your girlfriend co-signs or converts your accounts to joint accounts, which would bind her contractually to those debts.
There are several provisions and legal vehicles which may help protect your future wife's assets from your prior debts, and you should consult an attorney prior to getting married and implementing those tactics.
Additionally under the Virginia Married Womaen's Property Act, a woman may elect to hold wages and under property acquired during the marriage as her separate property, and Real Property may be held by either spouse under a separate equitable estate.
Good Luck and if you need further information, feel free to contact me.
Sam Mansoor, Attorney
Mansoor Law Firm, PLLC
50 Catoctin Circle NE #301
Leesburg, VA 20176
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Your "bad credit" will not directly affect your girlfriend's credit score if you get married. However, if you also have "bad debt" which is still attempting or may attempt to collect through judgments, levies, garnishments or liens, her assets, if jointly titled, could be affected. For example, a joint bank account could be garnished.
You should look into how "bad" is your credit. If it is just late payments but the debt was paid. If your poor credit is a low score with outstanding debt that is unpaid then it is more than just "bad credit". You have a ticking time bomb of potential legal collection actions.
If the amount of debt is low you should consider credit counseling. If the amount owed is high then I would recommend also scheduling a free consultation with a bankruptcy attorney.
I hope this helped.
John G. Merna, Esq.
The Merna Law Group, PC
Chesapeake - Virginia Beach - Newport News
This answer in no way creates an attorney-client relationship. The answer is not a complete answer and requires additional facts in order to provide the best options. The submitter accepts the risk of relying on such an incomplete answer and waives any claims of damages for doing so. As stated in the answer the submitter should contact a qualified bankruptcy attorney is discuss these issues further before any action is taken. Any action taken without advise and counsel of a qualified attorney is inadvisable.