2/21/2011 11:31 AM ET|
Marrying Mr. Debt? Prepare to pay
Prior debts may not fall on you, but those issues aren't the real problem. The big issue is sharing your life with someone who wildly mismanages money.
Question: My fiancé and I are planning to get married later this year. I don't have any financial issues. However, he owes about $7,000 in back taxes (not including what he is going to owe when he files this year), has a foreclosure on his record (he still owes $85,000 on that) and owes $3,000 on a vehicle repossession, which I believe has gone into collections at this point. We also just found out that he has a $55,000 tax lien against him from his foreclosure. All of this occurred before we met. He is planning on filing for bankruptcy, but I don't believe that will do anything about the tax problems.
My question is: Will this affect me in any way? We live in California. I have heard about this communal property thing. We don't have any combined accounts, but we would like to get a joint bank account. Will that open my money up to garnishment if things go bad? Also, I plan on buying a house with my sister in the near future. If I do this after we get married, but don't include him on the loan or deed, will I be affected by his past issues when trying to buy a home?
Answer: You didn't ask if you should marry a man in much worse financial shape than yourself. But that unasked question is central to this dilemma. Here's why:
Marrying someone with more than $150,000 in back taxes, liens and other bad debts will affect you. Having so many debts in bad standing, especially with more apparently popping up all the time, is a very bad sign. He may be the sweetest guy you have ever met, but his financial life is a mess. He needs to realize that he must clean it up before he marries you. Otherwise, he's just dragging you into his financial disaster.
That doesn't mean his debts from before the marriage will automatically become yours. They won't. But if he has run up this many debts in the past few years, how will he keep from adding to them after you are married? From then on, in the state of California and other community property states, creditors will be able to pursue you for his debts.
Furthermore, as a married couple, you should be deciding on financial goals together and working toward them. How will he contribute to these goals? He's working from a disadvantage here, and he is going to feel that acutely. No two people getting married are on exactly equal footing, but it's better if they are a little closer to it than you two are.
Many times a woman thinks she can help a man get on his feet (or vice versa). But it changes the dynamics of a relationship if one partner is as needy as your fiancé seems to be. Sad experience has taught many people that it's easy for their marriage to start feeling less like a partnership and more like a parent-child relationship. And it's the spouse who feels inadequate who often starts to feel disgruntled or insecure in the marriage.
I hope you wait at least a year, if not two, before you get married. Give him a chance to clean up his credit score and his back taxes and other debts on his own. If he's determined to file for bankruptcy, he should get that out of the way before you get married. (One spouse can file for bankruptcy alone, but it can get messy.)
If he gets his financial affairs in relative order and you get married, hold off on getting credit cards, bank accounts or other accounts with him until he has a clean record for several years. Otherwise, if more creditors pop up and you have a joint account, you could very well find your wages garnished by creditors after they are commingled with his.
Now, about buying a house with your sister: Buying real estate with someone other than your spouse doesn't always end well. One party's situation can change quickly, and then what? If the only way you can buy a house now is with your sister, and you are sure you want to do that, then at least go to a lawyer and make certain you're both covered no matter what happens.
If you buy a house -- with or without your sister -- the credit history and score of your fiancé (or your husband by that point) shouldn't be taken into consideration as long as you don't include him on the loan.
Sally Herigstad is a certified public accountant and the author of "Help! I Can't Pay My Bills: Surviving a Financial Crisis."
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I would never marry someone with that much debt. It shows irresponsibility. If they dont care about thier own finances, they sure as heck won't/can't care about yours.
I dont care how nice the person is or treats you, its NEVER worth the trouble. I would give him more than 2 years...I wouldn't say "I do" until ALL of his bills were cleaned up, his credit score got better and he proved to me that he can keep it that way and not fall into comfort of being married and having two incomes to bail him out.
That would say that you are serious about HIS mess...and you wont take any crap!
Money is one of the main causes of divorce!
Run don't walk.
I married a man I was unaware had debt beyond what he was telling. He said he had $8,000 debt he was paying off. and he had his kids who lived with him. I had debt from medical bills as a single mom with an asthmatic child that I was paying, so I thought I could understand how it could happen. But, I was paying. I thought we should wait to marry, but his "we could both pay off faster with one household" made sense as to why we shouldn't.
Debt can sometimes be a sign of much bigger issue. He had untreated bipolar disease. He could be utterly charming, but I later learned how out of control he could be as well. 3 months after we married I discovered he and his first wife had declared bankruptchy and he had been paying it off with $8,000 left to pay. However he stopped paying. I found out when we received a Mr and Mrs letter about "our" bankruptcy dismissal stating we were now on the line for the entire amount from before his bankruptcy negotiations - $65,000 in credit cards! I hadn't even known there was a bankruptcy! There were also tax liens from a consulting busiiness that tanked, claiming 10 instead of 4/5, and a $127,00 house with no equity after 12 years of paying into it because of the constant remortgages. How does a man making $150,000 a year run up so much debt? By buying his 3 children and himself ipod videos because school is out (even though they were failing), by buying a 15 year old who can't even drive a used car at 21% interest and having it redone, upfrading phones everyt ime a cool new one came out; quitting jobs and taking ones with half the pay at the drop of a hat, then deciding the new boss doesn't like him. By stupid steps of spending constantly without trying to pay back. Apparently there had been another bankruptcy years before when they had first married in another state. This was a habit; a lifetime habit and an air of irresponsibility that trickled into an issue of someone else will cover it. Always some one else's fault, someone else' s responsibility.. That is the mentality that has our country in so much trouble today.
Bankruptcy is only a way out when you are in over your head due to circumstances beyond your control. Constantly spending is not beyond your control. I know . I paid off my original debt. I drive a 14 year old car and am paying off my own newer debt from moving, divorcing, and starting over.
People with these type issues usually have much deeper seated issues that are shown by this incredible level of irresponsibility. They could be mental diseases like bi-polar was in ours. However without willing to get help, it is a downhill battle. My ex committed suicide after he lost/quit his 6th job in 4 years; a year after we divorced. He was about to lose his house and couldn't imagine being without. His insurance paid his first wife upon suicide. (we divorced after 2 years of more accidental discoveries and more than I could handle.) What a horrible waste of a life. Don;t ever accept someone who can't handle their own responsibilities.
Run away, run away, run away.
Seen it before. My cousin's son married a sweet girl who was a financial trainwreck. Now he's divorced, has custody of their son, owns half the six-figure debt she ran up during their marriage, lost his house......
Oh, the humanity.
Don't even consider marriage until he can PROVE he owes zero. (That's "prove," don't accept his word.)
You ALREADY KNOW this guy has this kind of debt--and you have to ask about financial help? Lady---are you CRAZY? You need to cast this "fish" back into the "sea" (tie an anvil to the fish first) and get your rod and reel and go fishing in another part of the "sea" on the opposite side! I'm not going to talk about his debt--I want to talk about YOUR thinking ability! Barring a miracle windfall of some sorts, this would keep you in wedded "hiss" for the rest of your life! Love is NOT worth fighting over money; my present wife lied to me about her debts that I found out about some 4 months after we married; she did the address change to make sure all her mail came to her new address, and boy--was I shocked and dumbfounded when I totaled up what she owed! then two weeks later another letter came in stating that she owed 10k more! We are NOT together after she left because she couldn't come up with her part of the rent ($85 is all she had to pay--she's an LPN) and I told her I'd be penniless the rest of the week if I made up her difference. ( I had to pay it and go into my savings)
Lady for the sake of common sense--PLEEEEEEEEASE don't marry this guy and stick it out by yourself another two years.
You know what this makes me think of? Natalie Holloway. This girl is what-almost 2,000 miles away from home and she stops thinking because, as in this topic we're typing about, some guy she has "fallen in love" with makes her legs go weak, makes her see stars, she want to do something she'll always remember about her senior trip, he's wearing a condom, i will stay in contact with him after i leave---you never, EVER turn off your brain for ANYONE!
This lady needs to asks, "Where can I go to get some relief from my thinking"? D-A-M-N! He's in debt ALREADY in excess of $100,000---and you need to ask for advice? Will it affect you? Would 10 years of rain every other day in the Sahara Desert affect the Sahara Desert? I tell you what--you figure out how long it will take you to fill up the Grand Canyon with sand from the Sahara Desert and you'll find out how long this will be affecting you. You know what's really bad about using the sand from the Sahara? You'll just create ANOTHER BIG HOLE! It will NEVER, EVER END!
I married a man back in 1966. He was the love of my life. My first goal was to get him out of debt and keep him out. Old habits die hard--rather, they do not die. During our 37 years of being married I had to bail him out of financial problems many times. Because we were married I really had no choice. I would discover $20,000 of credit card debt by accident. He opened a PO Box in his name at a post office not in our town. I had no knowledge of it. Eventually I discovered it and thought how insensitive and how selfish of this man. Had he been killed in an accident his bills would have continued to go his PO Box. When I eventually would have discovered his debt I would have had to sell my home to pay them back. He was paying 19% to 22% interest on his credit cards, plus penalties for late payments and penalties for exceeding his credit card limit on several cards I did not know about. I divorced him after 37 years. Within 3 to 4 years he was in debt again to the tune of $19,000 plus back taxes for the previous year and the current year at the time. Because we still owned a house together, even though as joint tenants, had the house been used as collateral, I would have been liable. I told him I would bail him out one more time if he relinquished title on our home. He eventually acquiesced and I refinanced in my Living Trust's name and the name of his Irrevocable Trust in my son's name with me serving as Trustee. He no longer has legal rights to the home.
Bad habits like spending money you do not have do not die. You can go with him for 30 years but do not marry him unless you are prepared to spend the rest of your married life bailing him out of trouble. You will have to because California is a community property state. His debts incurred without your knowledge are still your debts if he fails to pay up.
Here is a true example of the saying "love is blind". This woman is asking for a lifetime of grief. Unfortunately she probably won't listen to anyone but this guy, so most of what's said here will be a waste of breath. If a person can't meet the most basic of obligations as paying income taxes ( it appears this is still continuing) what makes her believe he can provide the things necessary for a successful marriage???
She may not be responsible for the debt, but she’ll most assuredly be harassed by bill collectors for years to come. They may even sue her even though they know she isn’t responsible because they’ll hope she doesn’t appear in court and they’ll get a default judgment against her.
She needs to run away and not look back.
Lady DO NOT marry this man. The ONLY reason he wants to get married is so u can support himm and pay off his debt. STOP living in a dream world. Deep down inside u know this that's y ur writing this asking what u shld do u know what u shld do leave him. Of course he's funny and charming and nice he has to be to get u to marry him and get ur money.
How well wld it work if he came straight out and said the truth " look I have alot of debt and I don't like working I wish I cld find someone to support me so by the way u wanna get married?" Surprisingly some people r so desperate and lonely I bet some women wld still marry him.
If u insist on marrying this charming bum insist that he sign a pre-nup and do not get a joint bank acct under any circumstances. I bet he won't want to get married then he might say if u loved me u wldn't ask me to do this. Tell him if u love me u shld't have a problem signing this. U probably don't even love him ur just in love with being inn love.
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