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How debt can affect a marriage

Some Hawaii couples may be among the more than 50 percent who have debt when they go into a relationship. In a study by Fidelity, 40 percent of them said their relationship was negatively affected by this debt. Communication suffers and couples fight more when they are in debt, and often each person thinks it is the responsibility of the other.

There are a few steps couples can take to try to avoid these issues. Debt can overwhelming, but people need to know how much they owe before they can begin paying it down. It is not uncommon for people to underestimate how much in debt they are with both credit cards and student loans. Couples who sit down and have a conversation about debt can also decide what kind of method they want to use to pay the debt. The "snowball" method involves starting by paying off the smallest debts. This can be psychologically motivating. The "avalanche" method starts with the debt that has the highest interest rate.

In some cases, couples may need the assistance of a financial planner. Professionals may also help people talk about their financial goals and make compromises. Unmarried couples may want to consider a prenuptial agreement. Married couples may be able to create a post-marital agreement.

These types of agreements can be helpful with property division and spousal support if the couple does decide to get a divorce although they are not airtight. Agreements that are not prepared correctly could be successfully challenged in court. Couples who do not have a prenuptial agreement or whose agreement is thrown out may need to negotiate a divorce settlement. The other option is to go to court and have a judge make the decision. However, this can leave the couple with less control of the final outcome.

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