Bankruptcy can have some unintended victims. Here's one scenario we discovered.

Emma (not her real name), a busy professional, was unaware her husband Mike was hiding debts in their jointly owned business. When Mike left her and filed for bankruptcy, Emma discovered she was liable for the business debts and those Mike had run up on their joint credit card: $50,000 in all.

It will take Emma 10 to 15 years to pay them off. Some were for purchases Mike made for another woman.

Emma didn't consider bankruptcy, which would have destroyed her career.

With the permission of the Official Assignee's office, which supervises bankruptcies, Mike is now running another business. But such agreements are uncommon and not given lightly. He doesn't pay any child support for their three children.

Emma suggests there are a couple of simple steps to take, to reduce the risks of getting into her situation. One: if you and your partner have joint finances - personal or business - make sure you both check the statements. Two: keep your credit cards separate. You may even want to use different banks.

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