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Reducing divorce risk with proactive debt management

It's no secret that money can be the source of contention and anxiety among married couples in Oklahoma. In fact, a new survey by a financial firm reveals that more than half of all couples go into a relationship with existing debt. Furthermore, 40 percent of the individuals questioned believe financial stress has negatively impacted their relationships. Money woes can also contribute to marital fights, disagreements over who is responsible for debt problems, poor communication and difficulty addressing money matters in general.

Having regular disagreements about debt is also a leading predictor of divorce. A Utah State University study suggests that spouses who fight frequently about money are 30 percent more likely to split. Part of the problem may be an underestimation of debt obligations, something 25 percent of Americans do with student loan responsibilities and 37 percent do with credit card expenses, according to the Federal Reserve.

Nipping financial issues in the bud sometimes requires couples to get past certain lifestyle concerns. This might mean trading in a fancy car for a more practical model and making other reasonable adjustments. It's also advised that married partners put everything on the table by determining what's owed and who owes it.

To pay down debt, couples may want to tackle smaller obligations first to build up a steady momentum. Another strategy is to pay off larger debts before moving onto smaller obligations to reduce burdens from high interest rates. In addition, some couples benefit from consolidating multiple debts into single payments.

Couples with existing debt could potentially reduce their risk of divorce by discussing a prenuptial agreement. This type of document requires both parties to disclose all of their existing assets and liabilities. Responsibilities with debt repayment can also be spelled out in a prenup to further reduce money pressures. Should a marriage come to an end at some point, an attorney could include language in the divorce decree that clearly establishes financial obligations for each party.

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