Couples hide £41 billion worth of debts from each other

Published on 1 January 1970 by Raffick Marday

Despite the stagnant economy and the fact that Britain remains in the midst of a double-dip recession, there still appears to be a stigma associated with debt.

Debt woesAround 15% of men keep their debts secret from their partner, while around 11% of women remain tight-lipped about their mounting debt.

This is according to research by the Co-operative Bank’s Modern Families and Households report, which also found that, on average, female debt levels are 58% higher than those of UK males.

Women typically shoulder a debt burden of £22,418 while men are £14,228 in the red, on average – which means that people in relationships are hiding a whopping £41 billion of debt from each other.

Christina Blacklaws, director of family law at the Co-operative LegalServices, said: “'Many people facing relationship breakdown 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.”

Of the 2,000 adults that took part in the research, around 13% admitted to keeping their savings hidden from their nearest and dearest – stashing away an average of £9,517 in secret accounts.

“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 pre-nuptial 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,” added Blacklaws.

Just over a fifth (21%) of couples do not have any joint accounts at all, while 38% hold a joint current account. A quarter (25%) opts to combine their savings in joint savings accounts.

If you are struggling to balance your finances in the current state of the economy, you may wish to consider prepaid cards, which can prevent overspending and help you stay on budget. Alternatively, rewards-based credit cards could see you earning cashback on any purchases, subsequently boosting your household income.

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