Divorce and Debt Series: Is Debt and Money a Good Reason for Staying in a Bad Marriage?

August 16, 2018

Perhaps you’re familiar with the theory that the biggest causes of divorce are infidelity and money problems. While this is hard to prove, divorce and debt is a major factor that must be taken into consideration when considering ending a marriage.

The Vanier Institute of the Family estimated in 2013 that 41% of marriages in Canada would end by their 30th wedding anniversary. In 2008, Statistics Canada reported an average marriage as lasting 13.7 years.

Reliable divorce rate statistics are hard to come by, especially in Canada as Statistics Canada stopped asking about divorce after the 2008 Census. In the U.K. in 2016, 107,000 heterosexual couples divorced and in one-third of the cases, money was one of the biggest stressors in their marriage. But interestingly enough, money – or a lack of it – is often cited as one of the most common reasons for staying in a bad marriage.

Making the decision about whether or not to stay in a marriage can be incredibly difficult, and certain situations make money matters more complicated, too. Take, for example, a situation where one spouse left work to raise children while the other remained in the workforce. If that couple were to divorce, the stay-at-home parent might worry about securing a source of income.

In an article by the Independent, a woman who requested to remain anonymous said:

“I want a divorce, of course I do. I’d like a fresh start and the chance to live my own life [for the] first time. But we have a daughter just doing her exams and I gave up work when she was born. What would we live on? I don’t have enough money of my own to put down a deposit. So we just sort of carry on carrying on.”

If it’s finances that are keeping you stuck, it’s important to recognize that there are options available.

The first area that can seem financially daunting is the divorce process itself. Lawyer’s fees can add up quickly. But take heart — if you’re in Ontario and seeking legal advice, many areas of the province have Family Law Resource Offices where you can speak with a consulting lawyer for a free consultation. You may also be eligible for Legal Aid and, if not, you could be referred to another resource that can help those with low income, such as JusticeNet.ca.

It can also be a good idea to speak with a financial consultant if you’re considering a divorce. A good debt counsellor can help you understand your current financial situation, identify joint debts that you might be liable for, and help you make a plan for staying solvent after the divorce.

According to the National Divorce Decision-Making Project report, sometimes just understanding you have options can make your decision easier — even if your decision is ultimately to stay in the marriage. Experts say that there can be a difference between a rough patch and being truly dissatisfied with your marriage. If it is the latter, however, know that you have options.

A financial counsellor can also help you figure out a way to deal with money problems in your marriage. According to a 2004 study by SmartMoney Magazine, when it comes to finances couples argue most about dealing with debt, merging money, budgeting, deciding how to invest, secret money or bank accounts, and planning for emergencies. If any of these are causing stress in your own marriage, talking to a financial counsellor can be a great first step to take before considering divorce.

Talking to a therapist or marriage counsellor could also be helpful to understand the difference between red-flag issues and issues that can potentially be resolved. There are a number of resources available on www.divorceangels.com.

Whatever your decision, know that when it comes to joint debt and personal finances, you have options. If you want to understand those better, even if you’re not certain yet whether you’re getting a divorce, Fuller Landau Debt Solutions can help. We offer free consultations.

Contact us today. Call (416) 927-7200 or visit www.fullersolutions.ca.