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Bankrupt in Seattle

Question

I just found out that my husband has accrued great debt on credit cards (many) and hid this from me and lied when I asked if there was something he was hiding. Because this is a community property state this debt is essentially my debt if he defaults. Its an overwhelming amount of money and will take years to pay off. What’s even worse is how much he has hidden from me and the lack of trust.

I don’t know how to get through this and its effecting my body (stomach hurts/gall bladder hurts/heart hurts), not sleeping and so angry with him.

I feel a little trapped. I have checked with a lawyer on protecting myself and home (its in my name) from this debt and have been told there’s really nothing I can do.

Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated,

Bankrupt in Seattle

 

Answer

Of course you feel hurt, and angry, and you have every right to be.  Your husband lied to you.  He committed financial infidelity.  This is wrong.

First you need to decide if you can repair your marriage.  Do you want to stay married to this man?  If so, then these are the steps you need to take:

1) see a marriage counselor.

2) take away all your husband’s credit cards and have all the checks written out to him go into a joint account that only you have control of.  Give him an allowance for his personal expenses.

 3) you pay all the bills, and keep all the books.

 4) get your husband into an AA program.  The 12 steps are the same for any addiction, and he has a spending addiction.  He has put his family at risk, and this can’t happen again.

5) There has to be something you can do legally, so get another opinion.  Maybe see an estate attorney about putting the house in a trust or something so that it can be protected.  I’m not an expert, but an estate attorney will have some ideas about what you can do.

 

If you decide not to stay married – get a good divorce attorney, so that the debt goes with him – there’s got to be a way to separate your assets and debts from his legally.

Meanwhile, take care of yourself.  Stress is terrible, so do all you can to stay relaxed and rational.  I know it’s a lot to understand right now with all you’re going through – but it’s only money.  There is so much more important at stake.  Your health, your relationship, your peace of mind.  Somehow you have to trust that it will all work out.

Hugs,

Lissa