Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts Relationships

My Husband Left Me for a Younger Woman. I Got the Debt. – Rebecca

“Dear Steve,

My husband of 21 years recently left my teenage son and I for a younger woman. We also have a 20 year old daughter who no longer lives at home. We have $58K in credit card debt, plus a mortgage and car payment. My estranged husband is having no contact with us (his choice) however he did show up to talk with a bankruptcy attorney (with whom he had scheduled the appointment and paid the retainer) a few days ago. This attorney is recommending that we file Chapter 7. He is also recommending that we don’t file until after we get our taxes back next year so that we don’t lose that $4000-5000 and we signed paperwork to initiate that process. I hope to keep our home and continue to make the car payments until next June when it is paid off. I work full time and clear about $2200 after taxes, insurance and a loan that was taken against my retirement plan. My basic montly expenses are a little over $2000 per month. Currently my husband is not helping at all with any of the household bills and I can no longer make even the minimum payments on our cards. As of today I have missed two credit card payments, which we have been advised to quit paying (by the attorney). Additionally he has taken his name off a number of accounts where he was an authorized signature but not a co-applicant.

Here’s where it gets more complicated. Last December I fell and suffered a hand injury. I retained an attorney shortly after the accident and due to the fact that one of my fingers is permanently disfigured and quite disabled we will be filing a suit against the property owner where I fell. This attorney feels that filing bankruptcy is not the best option as he feels I could potentially receive $40K-$70K in the settlement which even after his fees would allow me to reduce our debt a lot and avoid filing bankruptcy. Of course that process will take several months. He has also said I should not share that information with the credit card companies, but instead see if they will work with me based on my current situation. If we file for bankruptcy now, the most I would get is $10K as it is considered an asset and the rest would go toward the bankruptcy. I’m so stressed out that I have unplugged my phone and barely sleep at all. I just want to do the best thing for me and my children for a healthy future.

Should I continue to pursue the bankruptcy route or see if I can work anything out with the credit card companies? In the meantime should I contact the credit card companies and explain why I am unable to pay them? Thank you I appreciate any help you can give me, I just so confused right now 🙁


Dear Rebecca,

If I read your information correctly, and I paraphrase, your husband left, you are on the hook for most of the debt, you have a settlement due you for an injury to your body and you want to know what to do.

I think the advice the injury attorney gave you is incorrect.

Your husband managed to either run up the debt or participated in running it up only as an authorized user. As an authorized user he bears no responsibility for repaying the debt. Only the account holder(s) do.

His departure creates a situation in which you are unable to properly care for you and the kids, financially. Part of the solution for moving forward is to evaluate your current expenses and determine where you can adjust, now that your husband is not going to help.

In my opinion the injury settlement should not be used to pay down the debt. The injury settlement is for a physical injury to you and is compensation for you based on injuries you suffered, both now and in the future.

If you discuss the settlement award with the bankruptcy attorney they will probably tell you that the settlement is outside of the bankruptcy and should not play a factor in your decision.

The decision should be made on what actions need to be taken to restore your life to fit within your income, from this point forward. Once you make those decisions and take action to implement those you will then be in a much better position to provide a better future for you and your kids moving forward.

Part of that decision might be to downsize your living arrangements now that you have adult children and your husband has moved out. Renting a place locally may be a lot less expensive.

My vote would be for you to talk to a bankruptcy attorney independently of your husband and get a second opinion based on what you have to say, not your husband.

You can click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney and if you’d like a second opinion about your situation or a personal consultation by another debt coach, please feel free to contact Damon Day.

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.


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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