Debt has a major presence in many marriages. It is very common for people to go into relationships with outstanding financial obligations, and there are many ways a couple might incur debt during a marriage.
Debt can also be a conflict-point within marriages.
For one, disagreements could arise over who is responsible for payments. A recent study by Fidelity found that nearly half (49 percent) of couples that went into their relationship with debt aren't on the same page on who is responsible. The financial implications of the debt that a married couple has, and the stress connected to it, could lead to arguments.
Fights about financial responsibilities can be damaging to a marriage. The above-mentioned study found that around two-fifths of couples that went into their relationship with debt report that those financial burdens have negatively impacted their relationship.
There are things couples who are getting married can do to try to reduce the chances for debt-related fights coming up during the marriage. This includes having a clear understanding of what financial obligations each person is bringing into a marriage. This can help prevent unpleasant surprises from coming up in the future. Honest discussions about debt can be critical for couples to have prior to getting married.
Also, couples that are headed towards marriage may find it very helpful to set clear expectations regarding who will be responsible for what during the marriage when it comes to debt. In addition to discussing such issues, another thing that could help with setting such expectations is having a prenuptial agreement. The handling of debt is among the topics such agreements can address.
Once married, they can continue to take steps to help prevent debt from becoming a source of problems within their relationship. This includes continuing to honestly discuss debt and how to address payments. Also, if further expectations need to be set regarding debt once the marriage starts, post-nuptial agreements may be helpful.
Debt can also be a source of conflict for divorcing couples. For example, during a divorce, spouses could get into legal disputes over how debt will be divided in the divorce. How such conflicts are handled could have significant long-term implications for a divorcing person. Divorce attorneys can help individuals with navigating debt-related disputes in divorce proceedings.