We Have to Talk: Debt & Dating

The start of a relationship is usually spent getting to know someone. You find out shared interests, and spend time together to find out if you are compatible with the other person. As couples consider marriage, the questions may start getting into family planning or other major life decisions. But what about debt? At what point does debt become part of the discussion? And, what steps do you take to prevent this debt from becoming a shared debt if a marriage ends in divorce?

Debt can be uncomfortable to talk about, and you may want to put this off for as long as possible. At the very least, it is important to have this discussion if you are considering marriage. This could impact your ability to buy a home, get a loan for a car, receive approval to lease an apartment or even considering whether or not to have children. If you and your spouse-to-be are relatively debt-free, try to formulate a plan that will allow you both to stay that way. Try to avoid lavishly spending on a wedding, and try to find homes or apartments that allow you to keep payments within your means.

You need to protect yourself if you are entering into a marriage with someone with high amounts of debt. If you pay significant portions of the debt down, and end up getting a divorce, the money you contributed to your spouse's debt will not come back to you. Even though some couples do not think they need a prenuptial agreement, sitting down to discuss your finances can help you plan for the future. Even the best plans need to have flexibility for unplanned expenses. Being prepared can help you build a financially stable marriage.

Many couples fail to realize the impact that debt has on a relationship. Potential partners should be up front with one another about the amount of debt they have. One or both parties may be carrying significant credit card or student loan debt, and it is an important consideration for the long-term health of the relationship or marriage. Before you get married, take steps to protect yourself, so that if your marriage ends in divorce, you are prepared. An experienced attorney can help you formulate a plan that will help you move forward with as little financial impact as possible.