A recent report from the Co-operative Bank on ‘Modern Families and Households’ indicates that people in relationships are hiding £41 billion of debt from their partners.
62% of people in relationships have individual debts - including overdrafts, loans, credit cards and mortgages - but 13% haven’t told their partner about them. The average debt that a person in a relationship admits to having is £17,112, according to the report. Men are, on average, £14,228 in debt - whereas women are carrying £22,418 of debt on average.
Director of Family Law at the Co-operative Legal Services, Christina Blacklaws, said that when people break up, they: “may be shocked to find out that they may have responsibility for their ex-partner’s debts, even if they were not aware of them, or may not have any rights to assets or property which they themselves may have invested into. Even if your partner dies, debts may well be passed on to you as an individual or to the estate.
“Legally speaking, if a married couple decide to divorce they have to disclose all of their money and assets as part of the process to the Courts, if a prenuptial agreement has not been agreed. Therefore any hidden cash should not remain secret, and there can be severe consequences should these not be made known. “Unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples; therefore, it is important that people who are in this situation know exactly what their rights and responsibilities are. For instance, there are more couples who are drawing up agreements regarding their finances when they move in together nowadays.”
On the other end of the spectrum, people are hiding £22.8 billion of savings from their partners. The average ‘secret’ savings account contains £9,517.
A spokesperson from Insolvency Practice www.freemanjones.co.uk, who wrote this article, said: “Being in debt can be extremely stressful - and it can be even more so if you’re trying to hide this debt from loved ones. Couples may find that talking openly about their finances can help them deal with their debts - and plan for the future - more effectively.
“Even if you don’t want to tell your partner about problem debts, that doesn’t mean you can’t get help.
“Talking to a professional debt adviser - in confidence - can be a good ‘first step’ to take if you’re worried about your debts and not sure how you can repay them before they start having a real impact on your life.”