For Many Couples, Getting Married Means Being Wedded to Credit Card Debt
Late fall marks the end of wedding season and, for many newly married couples, the end of the honeymoon phase and the beginning of reality - including debt.
Thanks to rising prices and falling wages, today's young adults carry more debt from credit cards, student loans and mortgages than at any time in history.
Chances are if you're getting married, your spouse will come with some level of debt.
For many, maintaining a healthy marriage will require discussing, understanding, and managing these debts, according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.
Not only can large debts take a financial toll, they frequently take an emotional toll as well.
Heavy financial burdens can make it difficult for a couple to make important decisions - like buying a house or starting a family. They can also put tremendous strain on relationships, and - as our bankruptcy attorneys know from experience with clients - are common factors in divorce.
Once a couple is legally married, many states consider both spouses responsible for future debts, even if one partner's name isn't tied to them.
The good news is that if your husband or wife's debts were accumulated before you tied the knot, you probably won't be considered legally liable for them - unless, of course, your name is on the account (for instance, if you opened a joint credit card account or co-signed on a home loan).
The bad news is that, even if you don't have a legal obligation to pay off debts, they can still negatively impact you.
Often times, one person in a marriage feels blindsided because their spouse either attempted to cover up large debts or wasn't entirely clear about them.
The best way to handle tough financial problems is to do it together, ideally before you say, "I do."
The Wall Street Journal article recommends couples have a frank, open conversation about each person's current debt and credit histories and whether they intend to pay the debts separately or together.
For example, it may be wise to tackle the highest-interest debt first, regardless of who it belongs to.
Or, if you decide each spouse is responsible for paying off their respective debts, you may want to work together to develop a tighter budget that frees up more funds for you to meet your individual obligations.
For those with overwhelming debt, bankruptcy is a time-proven way to get your finances back under control. In addition to relieving debt, filing for bankruptcy often has the ability to stop creditor harassment, stop foreclosure, and protect your possessions.
Don't let debt stand in the way of a happy marriage. Bankruptcy is one of the most powerful tools for creating a fresh financial start - and a better future for you and your family.
Find out what bankruptcy can do for you when you sign up for a free one-on-one debt analysis with one of our experienced bankruptcy lawyers. Call DebtStoppers today at 800-440-7235 to schedule your debt consultation.
More Blog Entries:
Faced With Large Debts, Many Students Default on School Loans: October 2, 2012
More Foreclosures Can Mean More Foreclosure Rescue Scams: October 30, 2012
Wedded to Debt, by Rachel Louise Ensign, The Wall Street Journal