Getting married doesn't mean you'll have to merge all your financial affairs with your spouse's. In fact, you can easily carry on keeping your finances completely separate. If you are planning on applying for any joint financial products, though, be aware of the potential benefits and pitfalls.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
While you can take out joint loans with your spouse, you can still apply for loans in only your own name. However, you won't be able to add your spouse's name to the loan later if you change your mind.
Single Loan Applications
You can apply for a loan in your own name after you've married without involving your spouse at all. There is no legal requirement for married couples to apply for financial products together. You don't even have to tell your partner you're applying for a loan, but it's best to be honest with your partner about your finances. Nevertheless, any loan application you make as an individual will be assessed using your credit history alone and will be solely your responsibility if granted.
Applying for loans individually may be best if there's a big discrepancy in your credit scores. The spouse with the better score should apply for financing on her own in order to secure the best interest rate. The spouse with the score that needs improvement should focus on paying bills on time and paying down debt in order to improve her credit score.
Joint Loan Applications
Applying for a joint loan with your spouse could increase the amount you'll be able to borrow if you both have reasonable credit scores. Lenders will assess a joint application using both your incomes. Your chances of having your loan application accepted could be negatively affected if one of you has a checkered credit history, gowever. If you have a good credit score and your spouse's is poor, creditors may decide not to lend to you on the basis of your partner's dodgy financial past.
Credit Considerations for Joint Loans
Any joint loan you and your partner take out will appear on both of your credit files. If your account slips into arrears, both your FICO scores will suffer. You will be jointly and individually responsible for repaying the loan. This means that if you split up and your spouse does a runner, you will be wholly responsible for paying back any monies still owed.
Adding a Spouse
If you've decided that you're going to be together until death do you part, which is kind of the point of marriage, and want to merge your finances, you won't be able to take joint responsibility for loans either party already has individually outstanding. If it's important to you that all your financial products are in both your names, you'll have to take out new joint loans to pay off existing individual accounts.
Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.