Debts and Divorces

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No matter how you say it, or don’t say it, as the case may be, money matters.

What also matters is trust. If you or your spouse has a debt that the other doesn't know about, it can cause problems and rifts in the marriage.

House sold sign in London

Trust and Openness


When you're married, it can be challenging to find a way to balance both peoples interests when it comes to the finances, and you may find it difficult to talk about money. If a spouse is spending substantial amounts of money without the knowledge of the other, it can be perceived as an immense breach of trust.

Despite an economic recovery, Emma Pearmaine, Head of Family Law at Simpson Millar LLP had the following to say about marriage:

"Over the past 12 months, the majority of marriage breakdowns we've seen have involved hidden spending as one of the key reasons."

But what is at the root of this hidden spending, and the debt that follows it?

"It is true that sometimes you see that one spouse has been spending money having an affair, or an addiction such as gambling has destroyed the family finances. However, the main scenario we see will involve a spouse trying to maintain a lifestyle that just wasn't sustainable, involving things such as large household purchases, gifts, holidays, and similar luxurious items."

"It could be suggested that feeling these purchases are necessary could itself be an indication that there's a problem in the marriage."

So Money in General Matters?


While the focus of this article is so called 'secret debt', it's true that debt both parties know about can cause a relationship to become strained and even break down. If one spouse loses their job for example, that alone can lead to a change in the dynamic of the relationship, and if their recent unemployment means that they have to borrow money to get by, it isn't too difficult to see how things can sadly spiral out of control.

If money issues have pulled your marriage apart, it doesn't have to end in a fight about money yet again. It may be that the issues can be resolved relatively peacefully through mediation, or perhaps instead of seeking a divorce immediately, a separation agreement can be drawn up, this would state the agreed arrangements with regards to living, finances and the children.


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