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Angry woman doing her account while her boyfriend relaxing

Disease and infection are not the only things transmitted by sex – debt can be too.

My mum is a smart woman. Before she married my dad she had lived on her own and was a highly qualified nurse and had travelled from Moe to Canada by herself to work. She met dad and married him all within three months then they came back to Australia. Little did she know Dad was controlling and bi polar. He was also an entrepreneur and while good at what he did, earthmoving is a volatile industry and being bi polar didn’t help. He would rack up debt that then couldn’t be paid.

The problem with this is that he would coerce mum into cosigning documents. This meant mum went bankrupt twice, the second time to this day she swears she never signed a thing and that she was tricked. Mum couldn’t even ask about things as she was told “you came into this relationship with nothing and that’s the way you’ll go out”. She had young children in an era where child care was sparse. She did work some night shifts but then she had to spend a day caring for us.

Now at 70 mum isn’t destitute but she isn’t flush either. She doesn’t own a home, she’s a renter and she still works part time.

While the world has moved on and there are lots more choices for women, I still see Sexually Transmitted Debt happening and it isn’t only in controlling relationships.

I have seen a client who was in happy loving relationship. Her husband ran the business and he managed their selfmanaged superannuation fund. Then he decided he didn’t want to be married anymore. She has no clue even how much she has in super let alone what debt the business may have.

It’s time for us to be the smart women we are and protect ourselves from sexually transmitted debt.

These are my tips on knowing where you are at:

  • Always get independent advice – and this means a professional who is not your partners representative before signing anything.

  • If you are a director of a company, a partner in a business, or a trustee of a super fund get educated. Understand what your obligations are, ask what the reports mean and be sure you clearly understand the risks and benefits of any decision. Remember – even if you don’t make the decisions you are still responsible for the outcomes.

  • Communicate with your partner early on as to your feelings about money, debt and how your relationship finances will work. Even better sit down together and write down your expectations.

  • Always ensure you have your own copy of any loan agreements and business documents – including trust deeds, company details, superannuation fund deeds or details and financial statements and tax returns. If a relationship breaks down it can be very hard to obtain these.

Antidotal evidence seems to show that women are more likely to suffer from STD but men cop it too – and the same suggestions apply.

I have seen a family settlement where the Centrelink fraud to the tune of $160,000 was counted as a marital debt – even though the husband had no idea what was going on. He is now couch surfing as the debt was enough to clean out all their marital assets.

At the end of the day even though love can cloud your perception it is really important that you understand your finances, which in a relationship can include your partners finances as well. There are many great resources that can help you bounce back and recover from a STD – but as always prevention is better than a cure.