Is Debt Wrecking Your Marriage? How Bankruptcy Can Save Your Financial Future and Your Relationship Skip to main content

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Is Debt Wrecking Your Marriage? How Bankruptcy Can Save Your Financial Future and Your Relationship



Dumping debt may end the need for divorce

Image Source: Flickr User Jennifer Pahlka

You’ve likely heard the statistic that half of all marriages will end in divorce, but did you know the odds are higher for a split in a second marriage and even higher for a third trip to the altar? One of the leading causes of divorce is finances. It seems a shame that money can mess up a marriage, but it’s absolutely true. Debt stress can be devastating to an individual, but doubly hard when it comes to couples, particularly couples that don’t see eye to eye on their financial priorities. But filing bankruptcy can, in some cases, mend your marriage while it rehabilitates your finances. Here are some things to consider.

Does your debt cause arguments?

If one spouse came into the marriage with a lot more debt, the other partner might feel like they have been unfairly burdened. But if the indebted spouse was honest about their debt levels, so it wasn’t a nasty surprise, this is not a fair attitude to take. When you marry someone, you marry their finances as well, so it’s best to disclose all debt completely before tying the knot. In some cases, though, your partner may have concealed a poor credit rating or debt levels because they were afraid of being dumped. The good news is that, depending on the type of debt, bankruptcy can offer the indebted partner a clean slate without affecting the other spouse.

For instance, if a husband has $20k of credit card debt and servicing it is making your finances a mess – and the spouses share no debt in common – the husband could file an individual Chapter 7 bankruptcy (so long as he qualified) and wipe out this debt. This removes a source of conflict from the marriage that could restore your happily ever after.

Is your debt preventing fulfilling life plans?

When people get married, they usually have some goals in mind whether it’s to one day have children, travel, or buy a house. If servicing debt is forcing a delay in these plans, one or both spouses may be so stressed they feel like calling it quits on the marriage is the best option. The problem is, individual debt (and any joint debts) will follow the partners after divorce, so there’s no getting “free” of it through a divorce. And if the partners divorce then realize the debt is still overwhelming, bankruptcy after divorce can be much more complicated because joint debts will then fall onto the non-filing ex that can spark a whole new round of conflict. An alternate strategy to consider before you decide on a split is to file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy to deal with the debt.

If you can qualify for a Chapter 7, this offers a faster resolution – you can get a discharge of debts within a few months of filing. Then the debt-free spouses can see how their relationship fares once finances are improved. If the marriage is still a mess, then the partners can walk away from the relationship with fewer money issues. Filing bankruptcy before you split will also uncomplicate the divorce process, but you may be surprised at the improvement in your relationship once the debt is out of the picture.

Does your debt make it impossible to budget?

When a relationship moves to the marriage stage, each partner will come into it with their individual spending habits, debt, and financial circumstances and meshing them can be complicated and stressful. It may be hard to budget if debt results in a system of living paycheck to paycheck while debt continues to pile up. Bankruptcy can offer a clean slate to allow the partners the breathing room to sit down and create a budget that allows them to pay costs of living, save for the future, and set financial goals together.

The bottom line is, before you call it quits on your marriage because of financial strife, consult a reputable North Carolina attorney on how bankruptcy can help deal with your debt and make your life better, regardless of whether you can make the marriage last.

Contact the Law Offices of John T Orcutt today for a free North Carolina bankruptcy consultation. Our bankruptcy experts can assess your marital debts and explain the difference between an individual and joint bankruptcy, Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, and which will best benefit your financial circumstances. Call +1-919-646-2654 today for a free NC bankruptcy consultation at one of our locations in Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Wilson, Greensboro, Garner or Wilmington.

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