It’s National Get Smart About Your Credit Day! 




Third Thursday in October.


This day is meant to encourage Americans to take control of their finances and learn about credit. 


But what does that mean for Californians who are married? How is credit and debt treated when you’re in a marriage in California? 


Credit and debt can be tricky topics for married couples. 


In community property states like California, any debt accrued during the marriage is considered joint property making it the responsibility of both spouses.


This can be a bit problematic if one spouse has bad credit or racks up a lot of debt. 




Because the other spouse may be forced to pay off debts that they didn’t even incur. 


Community property laws can also complicate things when it comes to filing for divorce. 


If there’s a lot of debt, it may need to be divided between the two spouses, which can be difficult to do if there is only one source of income. 


What can you do?


Well, it’s important to understand how community property laws work so that you can make the best decisions about your finances. 

What Is Community Property?

Community property is any property that is acquired during a marriage. This includes homes, cars, furniture, bank accounts, and investments. 


Any debt that is incurred during the marriage is also considered community property. 

This means that both spouses are responsible for paying off the debt, even if only one spouse incurs it.


How Does Community Property Affect Credit Scores?

In community property states like California, credit and debt are generally shared equally between spouses. 


This means that if one spouse has a high credit score, it can help the other spouse get a loan with a lower interest rate. 


Conversely, if one spouse has a lot of debt, it can negatively affect the other spouse’s ability to get loans and affect their credit score as well. 


This is because creditors may view the debt as joint responsibility. 


There are some exceptions to the rule that credit and debt are shared equally between spouses in California. 


For example, if one spouse runs up a bunch of debt on a joint credit card without the other spouse’s knowledge or permission, the debtor spouse may be held responsible for the entire amount of the debt. 


Similarly, if one spouse cosigns for a loan without the other spouse’s knowledge or permission, the cosigner may be held responsible for the entire amount of the loan even if the other spouse misses payments. 


It’s important to keep an eye on your partner’s credit score and try to maintain good credit yourself. 


Communication is key when it comes to managing finances in a marriage. 


If you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to money, you’ll be in a much better position to weather any financial storms that come your way. 


And if you find yourselves disagreeing about money matters, remember that there are resources available to help you work through your differences and come to a resolution that works for both of you.


Questions? Happy to assist you!