Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts Mental Health Related

My Husband Has a Traumatic Brain Injury and His Spending is Out of Control. – Laura

Written by Steve Rhode

“Dear Steve,

I am asking the best way to deal with the credit card companies. My husband suffered a traumatic brain injury due to a car accident years back before we met.

I was unaware of the severity of the damage to his frontal lobes (in fact he has none) and was unaware of the severity of the obsessive compulsive tendencies such as spending and using credit cards.

He really doesn’t know half the time what he is doing, but He is an adult and therefore can make certain decisions without my knowledge such as opening credit cards.

Credit card companies don’t care as long as you sign the dotted line. He has been unemployed and I am now facing trying to pay off “sudden” creditors that appeared out of no where since I had no knowledge of the credit cards until it was too late.

I have always managed my finances and don’t believe in credit cards so this is very frustrating for me to be in this position. Also how can I go about preventing this again without taking away independence.


Dear Laura,

Well that’s a first, even for me.

Frontal lobe injuries can lead to life difficulty. The frontal lobes involve the ability to recognize future consequences resulting from current actions, to choose between good and bad actions (or better and best), override and suppress socially unacceptable responses, and determine similarities and differences between things or events.

His actions almost sound like someone who struggles with bipolar issues. Their spending alternatives between periods of recklessness and then dealing with the consequences of their actions while being depressed.

Considering his physiological situation and the need to wall yourself off from financial consequences of his actions, I would suggest the following:

  1. If you live in a community property state you should consult an attorney that is licensed in your state for specific advice.
  2. If you do not live in a community property state then you should make sure that you have no assets in your joint names. I would suggest you place any asset you might own in your name alone.
  3. Have your income deposited into a bank account that only you are on.
  4. Have credit cards in your name alone.
  5. I would suggest you get a current copy of your consolidated credit report and let’s see what accounts are open under your name. It’s important to get a consolidated credit report since no one credit bureau will show all the accounts reporting.
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Essentially what we would be doing here is not stopping his actions, which we can’t do without declaring him mentally incompetent, but to limit the damage he may cause to his name alone.

Any debt he would run up in his name alone would then become his sole liability and creditors could only proceed after his income if you live in a state that allows wage garnishments.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this 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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