Page last updated Friday, 30 March 2012
It is surprising how many times I get asked this question!
If someone has debts in their name only then they are the only one that is responsible for it. For debts that are in joint names, then in the event that one person cannot pay then the other named person is responsible for the full amount outstanding. It is not split 50-50 just because it is joint names.
This is not the case with credit or store card debts because they are in one name only, so any additional cardholder is not responsible for the payments.
When someone cannot pay back their unsecured debts, lenders can take action to secure their debts on a borrower’s assets, such as a house. They can also apply for a County Court judgement and then ask the court to enforce repayment. Bailiffs can then be sent into the home or an order made for an attachment of earnings, meaning that payment can be taken from your salary before it goes into your bank.
Also the credit file of both persons could be affected because of the link on the address of one person having debts.
You and your partner will be linked together if you have any financial connection, such as the rental agreement or mortgage in joint names or even a joint loan. If you have a partner who has debt problems then you may wish to disassociate yourself from their credit file. You can do this by writing to any of the main credit reference agencies. See below.
If there is financial information on your file about people in your family with whom you have no financial connection, or people who have never been part of your family, you can write to the agency in question asking them to disassociate yourself from them. The agency may wish to make some enquiries or checks to make sure that you are not just trying to avoid a bad credit record.
Unless the agency has a good reason to doubt what you tell them, it must not continue to give lenders information about the other people that you have mentioned. You need only write to the agency that supplied you with your file, since disassociation information will be shared between the other main agencies.
More importantly though, how about getting some support for your loved one and start to help manage the debts. Once under control this may well improve matters and remove the risk of bailiffs calling. We have a list of helpful organisations that can assist for free, they include the debt charities.