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Engaged? Discuss Finances Before Nuptials.

Blogs from June, 2013

Two people holding hands with wedding bands on

Summer here and with it‚ white dresses‚ floral arrangements and diamond rings.

That’s right: Wedding season. More than a third of all weddings are held in June‚ July and August‚ according to the National Center for Health Statistics.

Two people holding hands with wedding bands on

Our Woodland Hills bankruptcy attorneys know that for many couples‚ money is perhaps one of the least romantic topics.

Wedding planning can be a headache at times too‚ but an in-depth‚ honest conversation on financial health is critical for couples before they walk down the aisle. While quarrels about the merits of pairing chartreuse with cocoa colors will pass‚ the implications of that financial talk could make or break the future of your union.

This is particularly true if one of you has great credit and the other doesn’t. It doesn’t mean you can’t get married. However‚ you’ll need to understand what that might mean for both of you.

California is a community property state‚ which means one’s spouse’s debts prior to the marriage shouldn’t affect the other’s credit. However‚ it could affect your joint ability to purchase a home‚ vehicle or other big-ticket items necessary to start your lives together. After consulting with an experienced bankruptcy attorney‚ you may want to consider filing for bankruptcy first and waiting for that process to be completed before you say “I Do.” That way‚ you’re both getting off to a fresh start.

Of course‚ this is a discussion you’ll need to have together and a decision you’ll need to make jointly. At the very least‚ opening up a conversation about it will get you on the same page in terms of your spending habits. Understanding why you ended up in debt in the first place may be a good way to help you establish better spending habits in the future – something you can both work on together.

Consider the following approach:

  • Remain calm. You don’t want to ambush your partner by dumping all of this on him or her when you’re both stressed. Ideally‚ this would be part of an ongoing discussion. However‚ especially if it’s the first time you’re talking about it‚ choose a low-stress time in a low-key environment to bring it up.
  • Be forthcoming. Honesty is critical. If you hide income or debt from your spouse now‚ it’s only going to lead to exaggerated problems down the road. If you fear they won’t accept you for what you have to tell them‚ then perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship anyway.
  • Have the details. Layout your financial situation. Have them do the same. That doesn’t mean you don’t necessarily maintain separate bank accounts or stick to your current bill schedule‚ if that’s working for you. However‚ you don’t want secrets.
  • Discuss your families. You need to know upfront your spouse’s feelings on everything from loans for siblings to the care of aging parents‚ and visa versa. Being on the same page about things like this before they arise can make those situations far less stressful when they do.
  • Keep the discussion ongoing. You don’t want to have to only talk about money when things aren’t going well. Celebrate your successes and your goals. One of the best things about marriage is having someone there to support you through all of it – the good and the bad.

Consider whether outside professional help from a financial planner or bankruptcy attorney might be beneficial for you both. Even an initial consultation can give you both a better understanding of the best route to take.

If you are contemplating bankruptcy in Woodland Hills‚ contact Cal West Law to schedule your free consultation. Call (818) 446-1334.

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