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Managing your money with a partner can be a useful way to control your outgoings and save money. For example, lots of couples set up a joint bank account when they move in together and when the time comes to buy a house, a shared mortgage is normally easier to get approved than a single one.

However, if your relationship breaks down, bills that you pay together can become a lot harder to deal with, especially if one person in the relationship goes back on their word. Being left with mounting bills after a painful breakup can add stress and shock to an already upsetting situation.

What you need to know

If one partner doesn’t keep up with their payments during or after a divorce or a separation, the other person may end up having to deal with some debts on their own. It’s often believed that each person is in charge of just their half of a joint bill, but this simply isn’t the case.

What can I do if I didn’t agree to a specific debt?

If you’re being chased for debts and you don’t know what they’re for, the first thing to do is ask the company that’s chasing you for the original paperwork. If you didn’t sign up for it, it’s possible that you’ve been a victim of fraud.

How does marriage affect debts?

All debts and bills taken out in your name before you get married will remain your responsibility afterwards, as will be the case if one of you takes out a debt alone after you are married. Your credit reports will not be merged, but if one of you has poor credit, this may affect the other person’s credit score.

What happens to the debts of a deceased partner?

If the debt is in the name of the deceased only, it’s not your responsibility to pay it back. However, if there is money in any property jointly held that can be released, companies may try to take the deceased’s half of the money to pay back the debt.

What happens to the debts of a deceased family member?

This is much the same as the death of a partner; if the debts are not in your name, companies cannot ask you for payment. However, if you were a guarantor for the debt in question, they will be able to chase you for the outstanding balance.

How can I tell my family and loved ones about my debt problems?

People often feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to talk about their money problems and find it hard to let their loved ones know about their debts. It may feel difficult at first, but being open about your debt is the first step towards dealing with it, and this news is much better coming from you rather than your family finding out when a bailiff turns up at your door.

What’s more, you family may be able to help you to find and plan ways to manage your debt problems. It can help relieve some of the stress and possibly stop tension arising in your relationships with partners or family members to reveal that you’re struggling with debt.

How can I help a partner or family member who is in debt?

Debt is a common problem in the UK, and there’s no reason for people to feel ashamed or embarrassed. One of the most problematic aspects of debt is that people are often unwilling to talk about it, but actually, debt is a very normal part of life, and no-one should have to face it alone.

If your loved one doesn’t realise how bad their debt problems are, gather all the information you can and do your best to help them understand it.

And if you’re struggling to work through your debt problems, the team of debt professionals at Creditfix are here to support you. We can talk you through your options, explain what help is available, and find you a solution that’s right for your situation.