Debt is not something many people discuss before becoming romantically involved. If the topic does arise, some people are not honest about their financial situation. The full extent of their debt issues may only arise when serious financial trouble occurs. If you are in a civil partnership with, cohabitating with, or married to someone who is in debt, you may be worrying that you will be held liable for those debts.
An individual is only liable for debts that are in his or her name or held jointly with another person. The only exceptions to this rule are council tax and certain household bills for a property you lived in for a certain period even if the bills were not in your name. In all other cases, debts are not seen as yours if they were not listed in your name. Therefore, it is important to have a full understanding of the financial situation of a partner before taking credit together.
If you are considering taking credit jointly, read the joint credit agreement for the account because it typically makes both partners equally and jointly liable for the debt. The creditor can recover the total debt from you if your partner cannot be contacted or does not pay the debt. The goal is to get one of the joint parties on the account to take financial responsibility for the debt.
This is particularly common if the couple parts ways and one person moves to another country. The ex-partner who remains in the UK will be pursued by creditors to repay the full amount of debt. Unfortunately, if the account was held jointly, that individual is responsible for repaying the total debt or will face negative consequences.[needhelp01]
If an ex-partner moves to a new address without notifying creditors, collection calls, letters, and visits will occur. If the debt was held in that person’s name alone, the individual who remains in the home is not liable for the money owed. He or she should report the debt collection attempts to the local Trading Standards Office and inform the creditors that the debt is not in his or her name. If the current address of the ex-partner is known, it should be provide to creditors in writing.
In this situation, a debt collector or bailiff should not be allowed into the home. Credit reference agencies should be contacted to verify that the ex-partner is not linked to the individual on any credit records. If the individual has completely cut off financial ties with the ex-partner, he or she can complete a Notice of Dissociation to have the name of the ex-partner removed from credit records.
Taking these steps will eliminate hassle from creditors and debt collection agencies for debt that does not belong to the individual. It may take time and various efforts to rectify the situation but the result will be positive for the individual who is not accountable for the debt. Remember, carefully consider the potential results of taking on debt jointly before doing so.