Early marriage-related debt may contribute to many Texas divorces

Many couples in Burleson think little of getting carried away with marriage-related expenses, including the engagement ring and the big day. Taking on a little extra debt to pull off a dream wedding may seem easily worthwhile. Sadly, though, this spending may put couples at a greater risk of seeing their marriages eventually end. According to a recent survey, the likelihood of divorce is higher among people who spend more on their engagement rings and weddings.

Overlooked sources of stress

Emory University researchers surveyed 3,000 people who had been married at least once, according to The Huffington Post. They found that greater marriage-related expenses were correlated with a higher divorce risk. Women with weddings that cost over $20,000 were 3.5 times likelier to divorce than women with weddings worth between $5,000 and $10,000. Men who spent $2,000 to $4,000 on engagement rings were 1.3 times likelier to divorce than men who spent $500 to $2,000.

The researchers didn't ask the people who were surveyed why they ultimately divorced. However, the researchers speculated that these expenses may have caused stress and ultimately raised each couple's risk of divorcing.

Other findings from the survey support this theory. Women who kept wedding costs below $1,000 were up to 93 percent less likely to describe stress related to those costs. In contrast, even indirect expenses increased the stress that many spouses felt. For instance, women who received engagement rings worth at least $3,000 were three times more inclined to express stress over marriage-related debt.

Complications during divorce

As typical wedding-related costs increase, more couples may face these stressful expenses. Pinning down an average American wedding cost is difficult, but CNBC notes that some estimates put the average above $26,000. Given the study findings, this means that many couples may be at risk for eventually divorcing. Unfortunately, the presence of debt may make these divorces more complicated.

In Texas, marital assets and debts, which are known as community property, are divided between spouses upon divorce. Community property is divided "equitably," which does not always result in an equal division. Separate property remains with the spouse who owns it. The following assets are separate property:

· Assets that spouses acquired prior to the marriage or after the separation

· Gifts or inheritances that spouses received during the marriage

· Personal injury settlements that spouses received while married, with an exception for compensation for loss of capacity

Under these guidelines, marriage-related debt qualifies as separate property. Therefore, it remains with the spouse who incurred it. However, the existence of separate liabilities can affect the way that community property is divided. For instance, if one spouse used marital earnings, or community property, to pay off separate debt, this could affect the final division of community property.

Seek assistance

Dividing property during divorce is typically complex, and the existence of separate or community debt can further complicate the issue. Consequently, anyone who is divorcing under these circumstances may benefit from consulting with a family law attorney. An attorney may be able to offer advice on a spouse's rights and responsibilities, along with potential legal options.