Debt Articles

Divorce, Student Loans, and a Special Needs Child Expenses Are Sinking Me

Father and Child
Written by Steve Rhode


Dear Steve,

Recently divorced. Have a lot of Federal and private student loans. Left with house payment and bills. I have a special needs child that has high medical deductibles and expenses. I’m drowning in debt and see no way out. I only make around 50,000 yearly.

Can I file bankruptcy?

Thx in advance,



Dear Bill,

Well, the good news is in these days of the pandemic, at least you are healthy and employed.

I’m sure the current situation is stressing you out a lot. It would for me.

Following a divorce, it is not uncommon for one or both spouses to financially drown. What often was supported on two incomes now has to find a way to be satisfied by one.

Sometimes the math just doesn’t add up.

Let’s look at these issues one-at-a-time.

Child Medical Costs

I’m not sure what the diagnosis is for your child. If your child is physically or mentally disabled then they may qualify for state medical benefits under the Medicaid program. You’d have to check with your state plan.

But they may also qualify for Supplemental Security Income from Social Security.

Additional Benefits

I would suggest running through the government Benefits Finder to see what additional help you are eligible for. Any dollar we can offset will make it easier to stretch the income.

Student Loans

On the federal student loans, you might want to look at consolidating all of those into one new Direct Loan and opting to repay those on one of the Income-Driven Repayment plans. However, while those plans will lower your monthly payment there are concerns about the programs.

For private student loans, there are options ranging from strategically defaulting in hopes of getting a more affordable alternative payment to negotiating a settlement to resolve the debt for less.

At the very least I would suggest a conversation with my friend Damon Day would be invaluable. He can provide you with some specific advice and a plan on how to navigate through the student loans quagmire.

House Payment

The house payment might just be unaffordable unless we tackle the other issues. Lower cost housing might be a reality to hunt for.

The Bills

It’s not clear how much you owe on other bills or what type of debts those are. If these are growing unsecured debts and loans then one consideration after you have a gameplan for the other items might be bankruptcy.

But with an income of $50,000 a year and your other obligations, it is going to be incredibly difficult unless you can alter the current situation.


Bankruptcy is a legal right for every person. It is typically the fastest way out of debt in the least amount of time.

If you have specific questions about what bankruptcy would mean for you I would suggest you find a good local bankruptcy attorney and have a free discussion about what bankruptcy would mean for you. Bankruptcy is the fastest way to get a fresh start for the least amount of money.

Bottom Line

I don’t think your situation is hopeless but it sure is difficult to find the right combination of all the suggestions I listed above that will land you in a position to financially survive.

Being a loving parent in a difficult financial struggle is very hard. The emotional stress and pressures on you are immense. Hopefully, you can find a way to discover some joy in your life and know that there will be another side one day where happiness can be a bigger part of each day.

I sincerely wish you luck on this journey and if you have additional information to share or can drop in to give me an update, please post it in the comments section below.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.


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