I’m Stuck in South Africa With U.S. Debts. – Anthony


“Dear Steve,

American, forced to live in South Africa due to spouse not being recognized for immigration to the U.S.

I was forced to make the very difficult decision of leaving my spouse who could not remain in America or leaving America to be with my spouse. I of course left America because who would leave their spouse just to keep a good credit rating.

My spouse is South African and that is where I moved in late 2007 since America does not recognize our same sex marriage. I am working in South Africa since our marriage is recognized here, however, the 10 to 1 exchange rate means that the 5,000 Rand that I make a month is sometimes barley more than 500 US dollars.

I had to leave everything I had built and worked for and voluntarily turned in my leased car. I left owing about 18,000 dollars in debt and 35,000 dollars in student loans. I have defered my student loans for a 3 year period which makes me ok in that department for another year.

What is your advice on the other debt while I am in SA? Should I try to file bankruptcy while living in South Africa or wait until such time that we are actually allowed to return home? Also, what happens with my student loans if I am still in South Africa (not by choice) and I have to start making the 300 dollar SL payment?

I would not be able to even afford to live here as that 3,000 rand payment would be more than half of my monthly income. I realize that I can not include student loans in bankruptcy and I certainly do not want to default on them but I do not know what to do at this point.

Depending on if your student loan is a government backed loan or a private one, contact your student loan servicer and ask for details on an Income Contingent Repayment Plan (ICRP).

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Dear Anthony,

I understand the reason for your move, love. Can’t fault you on that. It is unlucky or unfortunate that you would up moving to a country with a currency that has such a bad conversion rate as compared to the U.S. dollar.

We can only deal with what is reality at this point so I would suggest that you look into bankruptcy in the U.S. to deal with the credit card debts and make payments arrangements on the student loan as soon as possible. Leaving those loans in deferment only increases the balance. I’d rather see you get going on a payment plan as soon as possible to not let the balance get higher.

You can file bankruptcy in the U.S. from South Africa under certain circumstances. Please see this other post for details. “Can I Go Bankrupt in the U.S. Even Though I Live Outside the States Now? – Peter.


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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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