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Steve Bucci, the Bankrate.com Debt AdviserWork 2 jobs to pay hubby's debt? No way!

Dear Debt Adviser,
I am considering divorce. My husband is 64, on the verge of retirement. I'm 20 years younger and working two jobs to pay off debt that was built by both of us. The card was in my name only. I'm considering filing for divorce in order to force him to give me some money toward the outstanding balance. He's been putting all his money in investments in his name only and I'm carrying the debt. Should I not pay it at all and look for legal action?
-- Nancy

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Dear Nancy,
Although divorcing over money issues is very common, I always have a hard time getting used it when I hear someone is going down that road. The loss of dreams, time and, yes, money is very sad indeed.

My primary recommendation is to try to communicate with your husband about your level of frustration and his pitching in to help pay the debt. You might gently (or not, considering the stakes) remind him that the balance on the credit card is due to purchases from which you both benefited and that you are working a second job to keep up with the payments. Don't forget to look at it from his point of view, as well. He may be paying for other things and thinking he is doing his part in the marriage.

If you have already tried to reach an agreement with your husband about paying off the debt, to no avail, here are some suggestions. First, stop using the card. Second, get a new card that you will use for just stuff that applies to you alone. Third, ask him to get a joint card with you for future purchases that benefit both of you. 

I do not have good news for you regarding your idea of stopping payments on the debt. Since the card is in your name only, the one hurt most by not paying the bill will be you. It will negatively affect your credit, not his. If you believe divorce is in your future, you will want to protect your credit as best you can. Property, assets and debt are split up in a divorce, so you need to be careful and minimize any potential financial damage.

Let's look at what might happen if you stop paying the credit card debt.

Consequences of not paying:

I would encourage you to have a serious heart-to-heart talk with your husband. At 64, I hope he would know that avoiding marital conflict and divorce has real value. Plus, if he knows how upset you are, and he really cares for you, a solution may be in the offing. If he is an insensitive dweeb, contact an attorney if you are seriously considering divorce and find out what legal recourse you have to get your husband to pay his portion of the debt. In the meantime, keep paying your credit card bill.

Good luck!

The Debt Adviser, Steve Bucci, is the president of Money Management International Financial Education Foundation and the author of "Credit Repair Kit for Dummies." Visit MMI for additional debt advice, or to ask a question of the Debt Adviser, go to the "Ask the Experts" page and select "debt" as the topic.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Oct. 20, 2006
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