Financial Independence for Married Individuals

Married? If so, let’s read your financial independence barometer.

Marriage brings many things, but for some couples it means one partner giving up a career to care for the home and the children. When this occurs, financial resources (credit, loans, etc.) often become tied to the breadwinner in the relationship. The individual that primarily works in the home frequently doesn’t even think about his or her credit, since the family is financially provided for by the working spouse.

Spouses who have put their career on hold are sometimes surprised to learn that they can obtain very little or no credit on their own. Unfortunately, this realization often arises only after there are problems in the marriage and the parties are contemplating separation or divorce.

Take a quick inventory: How far could you get without relying on your spouse’s name for credit, financing, or a loan?

To protect yourself and your financial independence, I advise maintaining credit and funds in your own name. The Consumer Protection Financial Bureau recently announced that the income and assets of a spouse may now be considered by credit card issuers. Previously these were not considered, but changes will go into effect within the next few months. To use your spouse’s income and assets, you will need to be at least 21 years of age and possess a reasonable expectation of access.

It is prudent to maintain credit in your name, regardless of how blissful your marriage is or how financially dependent you are on your spouse. Circumstances can always change, and you should be prepared so that you if you need credit, it is available to you.

Attorney Lauren T. Skildum