Many divorces could be avoided if couples did a credit check on their partnerbefore they tied the knot or moved in together according to a leadingAustralian Consumer and Financial law firm.
CEO of MyCRA Lawyers said as Valentine’s Day approaches, probably the leastromantic thing you could think of doing is laying bare your financial soul,but if people compared credit file compatibility rather than star signs, thedivorce rate would probably halve overnight.
Family lawyer Patrick Earl of ADS Law said one of the root causes of marriagebreak-down is financial incompatibility. Many people will consult their starsand online questionnaires to work out their love match but they will overlooktheir financial suitability and this is a big mistake.
“If a miser marries a shopaholic then I am pretty sure they are going to endup seeing a lawyer like me. People don’t realise once you’re married you’restuck with the financial decisions your partner makes so you both need to beon the same page. Just as you get to split the assets when you get divorcedyou get to split the debts as well,” he said.
“Marriage is like a business and you’re both in the business together.
“I’ve had clients getting divorced who have tried to argue that they shouldnot be liable for their partner’s financial decisions, but often they are.
“This is how much things can come down to money, I had one client who evenargued his wife had devalued herself by ‘letting herself go’ by putting onweight, and therefore she deserved less of the financial settlement.
“The clause in your marriage vows for better or worse, rich or poorer, istalking about your partner’s financial indiscretions,” Mr Earl said.
Mr Doessel said someone’s credit file really is a window to their soul becauseyou can’t hide your financial misdeeds.
“Because credit reporting has changed, now if you are 14 days late paying abill it goes on your credit file. RHI or Repayment History Information meansany creditor can report to a credit reporting body that you have missed apayment by just 14 days.
“Get just one of these and a happy couple will soon find they can’t take thatnext step of buying a house or car on finance or perhaps can’t even get creditat their baby store,” Mr Doessel said.
“Would seriously think twice about getting involved with someone with a lot ofdebt.
“We hear all the stories of how partners hide their spending habits frompartners, from the old buying gift cards to other stores and hiding it thegrocery bill, to buying something expensive and returning it for somethingcheaper and spending the difference on themselves.
“In some cases, one partner is even hiding their tardy bill paying from theother and often it ruins both individuals credit rating because these latepayments are now recorded.
“We have even seen spouses doctor up fake bills and have secret bankaccounts,” Mr Doessel said.
Normally one of the first indications a person gets of what their partner islike with money is when it comes to a wedding, Mr Doessel said.
The average cost of a wedding in Australia these days is $65,482 according toa survey in Bride to Be magazine. It’s almost double the government’s estimateon its Moneysmart website of $36,200.
Mr Doessel said some couples are sacrificing everything including theirfinancial future in the form destroying their credit rating all for one bigday and some photographs.
“Some couples make huge sacrifices including not paying their bills on timewhich can jeopardize their happiness once the honeymoon is over, due to theshear stress it will place on them down the track,” Mr Doessel said.
“We’ve had a number of clients who have presented with defaults on theircredit file and when we ask them how they got into this predicament, it’s beena dream wedding that has led them to rob Peter to pay the wedding planner,” MrDoessel said.
“Financial stress is one of biggest precursors to divorce and we find manyclients had no idea late bill payment was potentially financially crippling.
“Of course planning a wedding is a busy time and sometimes bills are missed.Often the first couples know about the missed payment is when they getrejected for a loan.
“Same goes for having a baby, buying a home and other life changing events,the mundane can get missed like paying a bill and before you know it yourcredit is ruined for up to 5 years.
“It’s why everyone should check their credit file at least once a year bystarting at www.FreeCreditRating.com.au,” Mr Doessel said.
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