Dealing with debt before you get married is not a fun topic for discussion. For many couples, they never sit down and discuss their debt before they say “I Do.” Life is great, you are in love, you are getting married. Financial discussions can wait until later. There’s no reason to have that uncomfortable talk. Dealing with debt will just naturally come along as your life together goes on. But, as a former divorce attorney, I can tell you that keeping debts hidden can cause issues later. Money issues can be a strong factor leading one spouse to file for divorce.
While it’s not seen as “romantic” to get one, a prenuptial agreement will lead to you having that open discussion you need to have. To be valid, the agreement has to disclose your assets and liabilities before you get married. Seeing your liabilities on paper can serve as the push you need to discuss dealing with debt before you get married.
How to Deal With Your Debt
The Wall Street Journal recently had a good article on How to Keep Debt from Wrecking a New Marriage. In it, they offered a 3 Step approach to prevent debt problems from ruining your marriage:
- Create a Game Plan
Ironically, these 3 steps are pretty basic steps that could help you attack most problems in a marriage. The WSJ recommends you start having these discussions as soon as your relationship gets serious. It’s not the most romantic discussion to have on a first-date, but at some point, finances will probably come up.
Once you’ve begun to communicate, you can see where each of you are financially. If one of you has more debt than the other, there may be a tendency to feel embarrassed. But this is something that you two can work together on as part of your Game Plan. And if it continues to be an issue, a prenup can be the answer. You can use the prenup to specify how your debt will be paid down. To give the other person a little peace of mind, the prenup can also provide that if your spouse is paying down your debt and you get divorced, you’ll have to reimburse them. That way, nobody feels like they are being married and unfairly trapped into someone else’s debt.
You can find lots of good information about prenuptial agreements online (there are even some links below). And if you or your beloved have debt, a prenup may be right for you to help you get your financial conversations on the right road. You shouldn’t just download a prenup from a website and try to do it yourself. It’s a good idea to work with a professional to make sure you have a correct prenup prepared for you and your soon to be spouse.
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