Credit Counseling Before or After Marriage
August 20, 2007 1:03 PM   Subscribe

I am looking to work with a credit counselor to manage our debt. Should I get this done before or after I am married next month?

Most of the debt is mine, but there's a good bit that's his too and some that is shared. The debt includes a few credit cards, student loans, and a couple car loans. We are located in South Carolina. We are looking to get our debt to a manageable level (any one day wipe it out, but that's a looooong way off). Our finances are completely intermingled at this point as well, since we have been living together for about 5 years now. We do not own a home.

Pros & cons to before and after marriage?

Any recommendations for non-profit credit counseling groups to work with would be welcome as well.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
There's no advantage to waiting longer to take positive action. Why would you think there is?

Are you concerned that a CC service will take issue with your wedding expenditures? If so, are you trying to avoid talking to one because you know or think they could be right?

I am not a financial adviser or a lawyer, but my understanding is that in the majority of (non-community property) states, the obligations that precede your union can't be pursued from the other partner. If you're earning similar incomes that may be irrelevant but if you were to be in collections on anything it could matter.

My advice is, don't dawdle. CCCS often have access to rates and arrangements that lenders won't make one on one. The sooner you start to get out from under this the sooner you'll be out from under it.
posted by phearlez at 1:39 PM on August 20, 2007

From the friend-of-a-friend department: A co-worker's sister recently postponed her wedding on the advice of counsel, due to her fiancee's debts. Granted I think this had to do with the danger of his ex-wife laying claim to a portion of their newly combined (which is to say, mostly her) assets. That probably isn't a concern for you, but it's a cautionary tale. You do well to ask MeFi, but I think you'd do much better to ask a professional. There are circumstances in which you would be advised to postpone the marriage... make certain that they are not your circumstances.
posted by mumkin at 2:09 PM on August 20, 2007

Before marriage to avoid having to do it during divorce. Seriously, don't put this off. It will help your marriage start off on a good note, rather than a bad one. In addition, the process of going through the counseling may be difficult, but getting through it will deepen and strengthen your relationship.
posted by alms at 2:22 PM on August 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I suppose one other reason to do it before marriage would be so that you could take your current financial information and use it to predict your tax burden once married, in case it changes your financial circumstances significantly. (Knowing that, you could potentially still get married next month, but only the commitment-ceremony part. Then, wait on getting legally married till January 1 of whatever year you can best handle the financial adjustments.)
posted by xo at 2:38 PM on August 20, 2007

posted by Pants! at 2:43 PM on August 20, 2007

now is always better than later.
posted by thinkingwoman at 5:29 PM on August 20, 2007

Before, also, depending on your state's laws you might want to investigate prenuptial agreements in order to shield each other against debt collection against the other party.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:04 PM on August 20, 2007

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