“My girlfriend is thinking of leaving me.” This is a comment I hear repeatedly, in one form or another, quite regularly in my bankruptcy practice, when I counsel singles in serious relationships who suffer from debt problems.
After all, who wants to marry into debt? Sometimes the thought of marriage drives lovelorn, debt-laden consumers to see me. Their significant other has given my client an ultimatum: Either you clean up your finances or I will not marry you!
Those just starting to date will typically avoid broaching certain topics like how much money they owe on their credit cards. Of course, these facts tend to emerge as the relationship becomes serious — and then there are problems.
This is a concept I recently discussed with Jennifer Gargotto  who blogs about dating issues in her blog, MsMorphosi.com . We talked about this phenomenon at BlogWorld this week, a large conference and tradeshow for us bloggers.
Fortunately, Chapter 7 bankruptcy often provides an escape from debt, and seeking bankruptcy relief when necessary can, and often should, be done before getting married. It is often easier to discharge debt while you are still single, and before you get married.
Here’s why: The bankruptcy means test requires married individuals to calculate the income of both spouses to determine Chapter 7 eligibility, but it does not necessarily require a single person who is filing to include the income of a significant other. In addition, the Chapter 7 trustee appointed to a case is entitled to ask to see a non-filing spouse’s financial information. In most cases, a trustee would not seek such information from a non-married significant other.
Determining family size for means test purposes can still be tricky, even for single consumers, and obtaining the advice of an experienced bankruptcy attorney is important. In any event, avoiding the additional burden and stress of debt when heading towards marriage can only make for a better, healthier and more stable relationship.
So if you have significant debt problems, consider consulting with a bankruptcy attorney now. And for those married couples with significant debt, Bankruptcy Can Save Your Marriage .