Trisha is a Single Mom, Separated, and Facing Bankruptcy. What Should She Do?


“Dear Steve,

I am a single mom and heavily in debt. I was living with my husband (we are legally separated) because of finances but recently I moved out. I am not behind on my payments at this time because I didn’t have to pay rent, utilities, etc. It is only a matter of time before I can’t make my credit card payments. I don”t know what I should do. Help!!

Should I file bankruptcy?


Dear Trisha,

Your situation is fairly typical. When a couple splits they now have two households to maintain on the same income they used to maintain one. Divorce and separation is often the event that leads one or both partners to bankruptcy.

I suspect that the only reason you are not behind yet is that since you recently moved out, all the new payments have not hit yet, or that you are using what little saved money you might have to make ends meet.

I think that you should use this event to not only start your marital life over but your financial life as well. If you do decide to go bankrupt it will eliminate and debt in your name and remove your liability to repay any joint debt that he has said he would pay.

The most important thing to remember about divorce is that even if he agrees to pay a debt that you might be jointly responsible for, it is still your responsibility to repay that debt if he does not. When you get divorced, you divorce your spouse, not your creditors.

Before you make any decision and certainly before you send any more money to creditors, I think you should find and meet with a local bankruptcy attorney for a free bankruptcy review. Get a legal opinion from the bankruptcy lawyer about what bankruptcy will mean for you and then make a choice about what you want to do. If you decide to not go bankrupt than come back and let me know. I’ll come up with a Plan B for you at that point.

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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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