Divorce & Credit Scores

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Divorce on Monday, October 5, 2015.

No, this isn’t about how to preserve your credit during divorce (a useful topic by the way). Instead, it’s about whether you can predict the stability of a marriage based on credit scores.

Credit scores have become ubiquitous in household financial and non-financial decisions. For example, credit scores are a feature of every mortgage taken out, and every car and consumer loan you apply for.

A good credit score impacts your access to credit, the interest rate you borrow at, and your ability to buy on credit despite changes in your income. Lately, your credit is being used in areas besides debt underwriting.

For example, companies use them to see how much your car insurance should be, how much your cell phone plan will cost, and approval for renting a house. Lately, employers are running your credit score before their hiring decisions.

I’ve written before about the latest trends in divorce: like will your divorce last longer if you move to New Jersey? Is there a right time to marry? Along those lines, a new paper suggests evidence of the role credit scores play in staying married or in a long-term relationship.

Two professors have found that a couples’ average level of, and the match quality in credit scores, measured at the time the relationship starts, are highly predictive of subsequent separations.

That’s because initial credit scores and match quality predict subsequent credit usage and financial distress. Financial distress and the amount you buy on credit, in turn, correlate with relationship dissolution.

Credit scores and match quality appear predictive of subsequent separations even beyond these credit channels, suggesting that credit scores reveal an individual’s relationship skill and level of commitment.

The Abstract of the paper looks interesting. They explored how credit scores play a role in forming marriages and long-term cohabitations, as well as your ability to maintain a relationship. Not surprisingly, they found a large and significant role for credit scores in the formation and dissolution of committed relationships.

The study’s results lead to a hypothesis that credit scores reveal information about an important relationship skill: an individual’s general trustworthiness and commitment to non-debt obligations.

They also found that when individuals have a long exposure to greater trustworthiness, as measured by surveys, they tend to have higher credit scores even years after they leave those areas.

The abstract can be read here.