Financial troubles are an unfortunate reality in many relationships and are a common cause of divorce and separation. Unfortunately, there is little that a court can do to stop runaway spending by a spouse during a relationship and no, a court cannot declare a person to be financially irresponsible. However, if your spouse’s spending has become an issue, there are a number of steps you can take that do not involve going to court.
Foremost, you should speak to your spouse. Explain to them your issues with their spending habits and try to work it out between you two. Explore ways to budget and track your household finances to help keep spending under control. If you are unable to figure it out, you and your spouse may benefit from couples’ counselling. There are a number of professionals specially trained to facilitate discussion between spouses regarding finances and other stressful topics.
As well, there are ‘self-help’ steps that you can take to mitigate the impact of your spouse’s financial irresponsibility. The most important, and effective of these is to get a marriage contract that divides your property and your debts so that you are no longer responsible for your financial situation and, if your marriage does not survive, you will not be stuck sharing your spouse’s financial problems in the property equalization process. You do not need to sign a marriage contract before the wedding. Spouses can sign marriage contracts at any point during their marriage. These marriage contracts have saved a lot of marriages. If you share a joint bank account, you can open your own account and use it as a conduit for your income, only depositing enough in the joint account to cover your portion of the shared expenses.
While there is little that a court can do in the context of a relationship, they have significantly more expansive powers in the context of a separation or divorce. If a court application has been started and there is concern that a spouse will deplete their assets or joint accounts, a court can make an order that a spouse not deplete the asset any further. If you are in the midst of separating, it is important to speak with a family law lawyer immediately to minimize the damage done by a spouse who is depleting assets.
To learn even more about marriage contracts, family court and mediation, you may want to get a copy of this as a , or as a $9.99 e-book for Kindle, Kobo, or iPad/iPhone/Mac. You can also use the search on the right to find lots more articles about marriage and divorce.
If you are thinking about separating because of problems with your marriage, then you need to speak with a good, experienced, family lawyer before taking any action - and certainly before separating. Otherwise, you may make one of several avoidable big family law mistakes that can cost you thousands of dollars (or maybe your kids) A family lawyer can give you advice on family law options that could save your marriage, or protect you if your marriage is beyond saving Contact Certified Specialist in Family Law (and author of the book to the left), John Schuman, by emailing him, calling 416-446-5847, or using the contact form below. We answer all inquiries promptly and we can arrange for you to come in quickly for a consultation (charged at a reduced hourly rate).
Before separating, because of your spouse’s spending problem, or because of any other reason, in addition to talking to a family lawyer, you should watch the video below to prepare for your separation.
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