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What to do when your fiancé has overwhelming debt

Medical debt is one of the top reasons that Americans file for bankruptcy today. With a growing number of Marylanders struggling to pay their medical bills, questions are bound to arise about the debt's effect on a couple's credit. For those who are facing overwhelming debt, it may be smart to postpone your nuptials until you get your finances sorted out.

It is important to recognize that one spouse filing for bankruptcy will not ruin the credit score of the other person; each individual's credit score is affected solely by their financial decisions. If one of the spouses files for bankruptcy, however, it can affect Maryland couples' ability to get desirable rates on mortgages, car loans and even joint credit cards. Couples who want to pursue joint financial goals together need to work together to come up with a bankruptcy solution that fits their personal situations.

Before you take any drastic action, be sure to check the statute of limitations on any medical debts you may be carrying. In some situations, medical bills may actually expire after a period of years. A qualified bankruptcy attorney can help you determine whether you even need to pay those old, overdue medical bills. Next, patients are often able to seek financial assistance from the hospital or medical provider; a simple visit to the facility can allow a patient to set up an income-based payment plan that satisfies both parties. Failing that, some providers will be happy to settle for a smaller amount than that owed.

Although bankruptcy might not seem like the best option right away, it can often help take the stress and anxiety away from large amounts of overdue debt. A qualified bankruptcy attorney can help interested parties learn more about their legal rights and responsibilities, allowing each person to decide whether bankruptcy is the right move. The best move: Stay educated about the effects of bankruptcy and financial concerns within your relationship!

Source:, "Resolve medical debt before marriage" Sally Herigstad, Dec. 03, 2013

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