Valentine’s Day and Bankruptcy

14 Feb Valentine’s Day and Bankruptcy

Of course you love your sweetie. Honeybunches is your best baby. And I’m sure that snookums is true blue to you in every way. Have you checked your credit?

Financial infidelity is a leading cause for divorce, not to mention bankruptcy. For better or worse, your marriage is a financial partnership as well as a legally recognized relationship. While you are not necessarily liable for your spouse’s debts incurred during marriage, except in a community property state like California or Wisconsin, it’s really important to know where you and your spouse stand so far as money is concerned. A third of American couples with combined finances say they have committed financial infidelity, with both sexes lying to their partners in equal numbers, according to a Harris Interactivepoll released in January

During my first marriage, I frequently found myself unpleasantly surprised at the end of the year. I’d get nice year-end bonuses and think that my family finances were in good shape. Then I would find out that my then-wife had been holding out on me the fact that she had run up substantial credit card bills. Men are equally as bad as women in lying to their spouses about their finances.

Open and honest relationships are critical to the success of any marriage. And openness and honesty about financial matters is just as important.

Here are some of my suggestions for a happy financial marriage:

  • Both you and your spouse should have full on-line access to all financial accounts
  • Both you and your spouse should review each other’s credit reports at least once a year
  • Both you and your spouse should sit at the kitchen table periodically to agree upon the family’s financial objectives for the year.
  • Both you and your spouse should design a mutually agreed upon family budget – maybe not down to the penny but at least as to the big items.
  • Both you and your spouse should agree on major financial goals for the family and agree on actions you’ll take in order to reach them.

The family that saves together, plans together, and budgets together stays together – and avoids bankruptcy too.

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Jay S. Fleischman is a bankruptcy lawyer with offices in Los Angeles and New York. He can often be found on Google+ and Twitter, where he shares information about consumer protection issues and personal finance.
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