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Lawyers, lovers and STDs. How to limit your risk – part one

By Peter Nevile

For those who recently exited or were ejected from a relationship, there can often be increased activity when multiple partners are involved. You may remember the slogan: “If it’s not on it’s not on!” 

Absolute protection from risk may be achieved rather drearily through complete abstinence. While it is often said you will live “longer” this way … I suspect it will just seem a lot longer because your life may be, well, unsatisfied. 

Before you jump to the wrong conclusion, let me make it quite clear I am talking about Sexually Transmitted Debt (STD). In this article, I want to look at how STDs occur, and how you might best protect yourself from it. 

So firstly, let me explain what a STD is in the legal world … an STD occurs as a result of joint activity – in the financial arena. It may arise from joint-borrowings and sometimes as insidious as it sounds, comes from obliviously signing a personal guarantee.

A favoured legal motto familiar to many lawyers is that “a guarantor is a fool with a pen”. I suggest you throw out your yoga mat and forget the mantra “Om Namah Shivaya”, and start chanting this every day. Remembering this mantra will keep you living in a debt-free state of Zen. That seems relaxing to me. 

If you agree to borrow money together with one or more people, your liability will almost certainly be both joint and several.  

That is, each person will be liable for the whole amount. Now … here’s the bad news … the consequences of your partner skipping town, going bankrupt and unable to pay for a host of reasons will then result in you becoming immediately liable for the whole debt and not just your half. 

If you find this situation not of immediate appeal, you can of course go online dating or hire a matchmaker to quickly find a new partner. This is never as easy as it sounds.

After practising law for many years, I believe the best path to protection, is, wherever possible, to stay away from any joint borrowings and borrow in your own separate names. That is “severally”. If you are unable to do this ensure you are kept fully and directly informed as to the status of the loan and your partner’s financial position. 

You are probably thinking this seems confrontational and hard to discuss. You are right; this outcome is not always easy to achieve. I strongly recommend you seek expert advice, which I also suggest should not be from your local banker who would also like to take your firstborn and anything else within grasp. Discuss it with a lawyer who can explain all the pitfalls and risks and how best to limit your risks. We are in your “hood”.

Want to learn more? Head to our website to read part two of this article: nevile.com.au/articles-videos/

Note:  This cannot be relied upon as legal advice as it is of a general nature.

Peter Nevile

Level 11, 100 Collins St, Melbourne

[email protected]

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