Should I Sign a Prenup and Make Him Sign, Too?

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This week: A couple wants a clean slate, but are they mucking up their nuptials?

Question: I have got $12,000 in student loans, and coincidentally, my girl has $12,000 on her credit cards. So we’re both kinda screwed, but at least she has lots of clothes and tech, while I got a college degree and a job where I can’t use it.

(I was a PR major but can’t find work in the field, so I’m working as a substitute teacher.)

We want to get married, but we’re so loaded with debt, I’m thinking we should just declare bankruptcy before that. My girl thinks we should do it after the wedding, so we can have an amazing ceremony. Which way is better?

— Anton in California

Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

Howard Dvorkin on how to get out of debt fastBefore you propose to your girlfriend, can I propose another solution?

First, let me talk you out of rushing right into bankruptcy. Student loans are notoriously difficult to discharge in bankruptcy. It can be done, but first you need to read this long, detailed article called, Are Student Loans Forgiven in Bankruptcy?

More likely, you won’t be able to get rid of your student loans. A bankruptcy court will simply put you on a payment plan. This assumes you have public student loans. Private student loans have their own bankruptcy complications.

If you’re thinking right now, “Wow, I didn’t realize student loans were so complex,” I don’t blame you. Unlike a car loan or mortgage, student loans are so very easy to sign up for. Alas, they’re not so easy to pay off.

Going back to my friend Steve Rhode for a moment: The Get Out of Debt Guy is known for his harsh opinion of student loans in general. Here he is, in my office for a visit, ranting about them…

Now that Steve and I have (hopefully) convinced you to try something else first, my suggestion is much simpler than bankruptcy: Call 1-888-472-0365.

You’ll reach a specialist who will walk you and your girlfriend through specific programs to relieve your debt. For her, it might be a debt management program, which could possibly reduce her monthly payments by up to 30 or even 50 percent.

For you, if your student loans are indeed public, you qualify for government programs that can greatly cut your monthly payments. You might even be eligible for student loan forgiveness. The specialist will see if you meet the qualifications.

Let me leave you with three points, Anton…

  1. You have less student loans than most people. The average debt per borrower is nearly $30,000 — and rising.
  2. Your girlfriend has more credit debt than most people. The average debt per borrower is just over $5,000 — and rising.
  3. You need to work through this together to stay together. Money is the major cause of marital stress, and debt just makes it worse. I’m concerned you’d both contemplate running up a big wedding bill and then declare bankruptcy. Even if that would have worked out perfectly for you, the underlying attitude could easily doom your marriage in the ensuing years.

Make that call now, Anton. I recommend you put it on speaker and have your girlfriend present when you speak to our specialist.


Have a debt question?

Email your question to and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.

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Meet the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

CPA and Chairman

Dvorkin is the author of Credit Hell and Power Up and Chairman of

bankruptcy, credit card debt, student loans

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