Canada has the 8th highest divorce rate in the world. Human Resources Development Canada has reported that the proportion of marriages expected to end in divorce has fluctuated between 35% and 42% in recent years. In 2008, 40.7% of marriages were expected to end in divorce before the 30th wedding anniversary. In 2008, there were 70,226 divorces in Canada or 2.11 divorces per 1,000 people.
Divorce debt in Canada is also very common. Human Resources Development Canada also reported that in 2008, 115,789 Canadians were unable to repay their debts. Serious financial difficulties brought them to file either a consumer proposal or a bankruptcy. Individuals who were divorced or separated were more likely to file a proposal or bankruptcy.
Why is divorce debt one of the leading causes on bankruptcy in Canada? The answer is fairly simple. First, two income households will often accumulate debt based on their “household ability to pay the debt”. The challenge with this is that debt is accumulated based on two people sharing living expenses and when people separate, living expenses will double because now each party has to pay for rent or a mortgage, and living expenses separately. When household debt is present this can make it challenging to pay it.
Second, some marriages will involve one person working and one person raising the family. When divorce occurs, the party who hasn’t worked will likely have little to no income but be faced with the immediate expense of having to hire a lawyer and also live. In many cases this forces the party who has been home raising the family back into the workforce. Individuals who have been out of the workforce for a long time often have to re-enter the workforce in junior or entry level positions.
Third, sometimes one party in a marriage may carry all of the debt in his or her name. Much of the debt may have been used by the other spouse. There is nothing worse than getting a divorce and then finding yourself having to pay your spouse’s debt.
Legal protections may result in the party who has the weaker financial positioning receiving support payments, being awarded the house, having the other party take responsibility for the debt, but this can take years. Also, the legal fees that compound over the course of a divorce may end up being more than the debt you owed to begin with.
So how can someone in Canada who has divorce debt keep his or her head above water without filing for bankruptcy? Fortunately, if you are in this situation there is a solution and believe me you are not alone. There are financial programs for people dealing with debt and specifically dealing with divorce debt in Canada. These programs will often enable you to make a satisfactory arrangement with your creditors and will enable you to consolidate your debt payments into a single reduced monthly payment. These programs can be found through debt consultants who specialize in divorce debt in Canada.
It is important if you are dealing with divorce debt to make responsible decisions that protect yourself and your family and also consider both your short term circumstances and long term goals.