Are You More Likely to Get Divorced If You Go Into Debt Because of Your Wedding?

Hossein Berenji, Aug 29, 2019

Many people would agree that, if ever there was a time to splurge, it would be on their dream wedding. The perfect dress, cake, caterers, and flowers can take months to find. Some couples even spend years planning their perfect day. But does the price of a costly wedding ultimately doom a couple’s marriage?

Some dream weddings can quickly turn into a nightmare once a newly married couple starts receiving invoices in the thousands for wedding-related expenses.

The average couple spends $30,000 on their wedding. Some couples think the cost is worth it. However, with the divorce rate already at 50%, the added financial strain of the perfect wedding can lead some couples straight to a divorce.

The True Cost Of Wedding Debt

A new study found that almost half of all newlyweds who went into debt to pay for their wedding considered getting a divorce because of it. Over 75% of couples that went into debt to pay for their wedding reported more marital fighting than those who didn’t.

Further, almost half of all the couples didn’t discuss debt at all before their engagement. Finding out that your partner owes thousands in credit card debt or has defaulted on their student loans can be a huge shock. The added financial strain of your partner’s debt can be enough to ruin your marriage, and some couples find themselves paying off their wedding while paying for their divorce.

How California Law Treats Debt And Assets Post-Divorce

Some couples think that if a divorce happens, it will be clear who owns and owes what. A common example is property division. A spouse who enters a marriage owning a home and business may assume that these assets are automatically theirs if the couple divorces. The truth is that property division is complex and there are many instances where separate property can become marital property and thus subject to division in a divorce.

California is a community property state. This means that once a couple is married, absent an agreement that states otherwise, all assets and debts are split equally. This is true regardless of the ownership status of the debt or asset prior to the divorce. It also doesn’t matter if one spouse was unaware of the debt prior to getting married; the debt is still split 50/50.

Prenuptial And Postnuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a great way to protect your own financial future and minimize debt-related disputes in the event of a divorce. Commonly referred to as a “prenup,” a prenuptial agreement is a contract that couples enter into that sets clear boundaries for what assets and debts belong to which party. A prenuptial agreement can help address the following issues before your big day:

  • Property division
  • Spousal support
  • Pre-marriage retirement funds
  • Rights to life insurance policy benefits
  • Obligation to pay each other’s debts
  • Rights to pre-marriage inheritance assets
  • Other financial concerns

Already married and didn’t get a prenuptial agreement? Many couples solve this problem by getting a postnuptial agreement. This document can achieve all the same goals as a prenuptial agreement. The major difference between a prenuptial agreement and a postnuptial agreement is one is created before the wedding and the other is executed after the couple is already married.

Another advantage of having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is that, should you get divorced, the divorce will be faster, cheaper, and easier because many hotly debated issues, such as property division and spousal support, have already been settled.

How To Avoid Debt-Related Divorce

All couples have some sort of debt when they get married. Expenses like student loans, credit cards, and mortgages can financially overwhelm a newly married couple. This is especially true if the issue of debt isn’t discussed prior to getting married.

The best way for you to avoid debt-related divorce is by discussing your finances and debt prior to the wedding. If you have significant assets or just want to make sure all financial matters are settled, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can help.