Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.
Wedding season is upon us, and if you’re about to walk down the aisle, you and your partner might be talking about all the important aspects of your life as a married couple — including finances.
As you and your partner consider how you’re going to pay for the wedding, you might find out your fiance’s finances aren’t as ideal as you had hoped. If, for example, your partner has bad credit or debt, it could negatively impact your joint financial future, especially if you choose to purchase a home or a vehicle together.
Even if you aren’t currently planning to tie the knot, you might be getting serious with someone, and it’s vital to be on the same page about money with your long-term love. Although 68 percent of those surveyed by Yahoo Finance said it would be a major issue if their partner had debt, 51 percent said they’d be willing to help pay it down.
Communication is an important factor in any marriage, but it’s especially crucial when combining finances and debt. That’s why it’s advisable to talk to your fiance about money openly, including how it’s spent and what’s owed. Hiding money can be a common issue with couples, but it’s best to not start your marriage off with dishonesty.
When and How to Talk About Finances
While you will likely want to have this conversation well before the wedding, the best time to bring up any debt or financial concerns with your partner is probably whenever it feels right.
There’s no need to make it a dramatic reveal. Just have the debt talk with your partner. Pick a quiet time when you two are together, and go over what you each owe — and be 100% honest about the total.
From there, you can work together to create a plan about how you’ll pay down your debts and contribute to joint expenses. Your financial situation can be much less scary for you and your partner if you walk away united and with a clear solution.
‘Til Debt Do You Part?
As with all relationship issues, open communication is the best solution for learning how to deal with a partner’s debt. Once you’ve determined how you’re going to tackle that, the next decision is how to deal with your finances once you’re married. You could keep your money separate, combine everything, or maintain your individual accounts with one joint account that you each contribute to. Totally separate accounts might encourage hidden funds and purchases, but it also lets each partner retain financial independence. Combining all finances could mean one partner is pulling more financial weight, but it also keeps everything out in the open. A hybrid approach might be best if you want to keep joint expenses totally equal, but also feel like you have control over some of your own money.
If it’s a huge surprise that your fiance has hidden debt, you might want to delve a little deeper to discover whether they are hiding anything else, such as bankruptcies, past marriages, or legal troubles. These are things you’ll likely want to know before saying “I do,” especially if you want to establish a foundation of trust and openness for your marriage.