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My Wife's Debt - Should I Pay It?

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    #16
    I disagree. She lied and did it behind his back buying who knows what with nothing to really show for it. If my DH went out and decided to spend $5,000 on lap dances or something (I'm being extreme of course, but either way the purchases were not "household" purchases from what the OP said) you can bet I wouldn't be footing the bill, nor would I consider it equally my responsibility. I also don't consider him responsible for my whims either.

    For the original poster, I don't know what I'd do in your situation. I know that trust is a huge factor for me. I would be ANGRY (especially if I had to pay it). It may not be true for others on this board, but for me $5,000 represents a LOT of money. If I had $500,000 lying around it may not be as much of a big deal to me, but at this point in my life it would piss me right off.

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      #17
      Originally posted by beta decay View Post
      I decided my wife and I were not going to borrow another dime again.
      ...
      In mid-2008 I found out my wife had gotten several credit cards without my permission.
      ...
      I found out that my wife owed about $5,000 to credit card companies, and that she had been paying them with money from my checking account.

      I got another checking account and I refused to allow my wife access to the new account. I started giving her an allowance to pay for groceries and small things.
      ...
      I was so frustrated by now that I told them the utter truth, which was basically "My wife has no income, she has no assets, the cars are in my name, she is disabled, she filed for social security and got denied because of a lack of previous income, and my wife will almost certainly never have an income again. You can't garnish the wages of someone that doesn't have wages. The debt isn't in my name and their is no legal obligation for me to pay a dime.
      I don't know what the debt is from, but the above statements tell me that your marriage is not based on communication and trust. The fact is, you will not be able to put up enough walls to prevent your wife's finances from affecting you. You need to have a heart-to-heart discussion with her to find out why she is not able to discuss her spending with you. My feeling is that it is probably because you treat her like a child. Maybe you feel that since you provide the income for the family you get 100% say in how it is spent. In my opinion that approach has backfired on you. You need to relax your grip on spending and allow her more freedom, not less. Spending decisions need to be made as a unit. I understand that you view this as a betrayal of your trust, and that you should impose more "tough love" restrictions on her to punish her. If it were me I would figure out how to pay the debt (the symptom) and then concentrate on the problem, which is the lack of communication and trust in your marriage. If my wife came to me with a huge wad of debt I would be more concerned that she was not able to discuss the purchases with me, and why she felt she couldn't do that, rather than trying to discipline her for bad behavior.

      Comment


        #18
        The problem may very well be a "spending" problem and not really marital. The OP said they already went through bankruptcy when they were both spending this way. OP learned a hard lesson, but the wife (while claiming to be on board) didn't. That is my take on it.

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          #19
          Originally posted by DebbieL View Post
          I disagree. She lied and did it behind his back buying who knows what with nothing to really show for it. If my DH went out and decided to spend $5,000 on lap dances or something (I'm being extreme of course, but either way the purchases were not "household" purchases from what the OP said) you can bet I wouldn't be footing the bill, nor would I consider it equally my responsibility. I also don't consider him responsible for my whims either.
          I'm not saying you or I is right or wrong here, Debbie. Just a difference of opinion. In our house, everything is joint. Income is joint. Spending is joint. Debt is joint. That was even true of debt that each of us had before we got married. Once we were together, those debts became joint debts. If my wife went out and racked up 5K in CC debt behind my back, I'd be pissed as hell, but I would still consider it money that "we" needed to repay. Any problems that either one of us encounters in our lives affect both of us and need to be dealt with together.
          Steve

          * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
          * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
          * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

          Comment


            #20
            And in most states it is considered JOINT assets or debts also. A court would not care at all who spent the money, or what it was spent on.

            Just like the banks giving home loans to people that couldn't pay it, things would be a lot different if the CC companies hadn't been (and still do) giving out so much credit to people (which is the majority) that can't handle or don't understand the consequences of the credit.

            My daughter actually had a very good class in high school where they went over all of this. She is very smart with her one and only cc. I wish we had that info back when we started.

            Comment


              #21
              I agree to Disney Steve to a point. When you are married you are in it together...BUT...She had no right to put his name on anything without his permission.

              We went through a similar situation right after DH and I married, only in our case it was his minor child who had run away from home and used his ID and later my ID to rake up debt close to $20,000 by the time it was all done.

              We had to change SSN and drivers license numbers as a result. The banks and such took her to court over it., ordered her to pay (yet she had no job) and she only got about 13 months jail time.

              In Missouri, a parent is responsible for the actions of a minor child. But enough is enough. She had a history of this, and as an adult, has done it again to others.

              There comes a time when the guilty person needs to take control of their actions and pay the piper themselves, instead of assuming the parent or in this case the spouse will. If the debt is covered each time they do it, it only reinforces them to do it again and again.

              In my step daughters case, I believe she is to a certain extent mentally ill. She won't wear shoes more than a month before needing new ones. She changes hair color/styles every month...it goes on and on, but the bottom line is she has nothing to show for what she spends it on, and we certainly got no gain from her spending with our stole cc, check books and our stolen ID.

              Also, my ex husband put my name on a new Sears card he got after my current DH and I were married. Again, he had no right, and Sears (owned by CITI) came after me for it. They sent letters and called me 7-8 times a day over it.

              Comment


                #22
                Originally posted by disneysteve View Post
                I'm not saying you or I is right or wrong here, Debbie. Just a difference of opinion. In our house, everything is joint. Income is joint. Spending is joint. Debt is joint. That was even true of debt that each of us had before we got married. Once we were together, those debts became joint debts. If my wife went out and racked up 5K in CC debt behind my back, I'd be pissed as hell, but I would still consider it money that "we" needed to repay. Any problems that either one of us encounters in our lives affect both of us and need to be dealt with together.
                Same here, Disneysteve. I would be very angry with DH if he did this to me, but I wouldn't try to get out of paying it. I would probably suggest he find a way to help pay it, though.

                Comment


                  #23
                  Originally posted by mom-from-missouri View Post
                  She had no right to put his name on anything without his permission.
                  I agree, but unless OP is planning to press charges against his wife, the situation needs to be handled between the two of them.

                  If the debt is covered each time they do it, it only reinforces them to do it again and again.
                  Originally posted by cptacek View Post
                  I would probably suggest he find a way to help pay it, though.
                  I totally agree. I did not mean to suggest that OP should pay the bill and have that be the end of it. If this happened in my house, I'd make sure the bill got paid and then work on correcting the situation. I'd make it clear to DW that things need to change going forward so that it never happens again. We'd also have to make changes to account for that $5,000, so cutbacks would be happening. If the amount was significant enough to warrant it, a new job might be needed to cover the money.

                  I definitely wouldn't suggest just bailing her out and having that be it because it will just keep happening.
                  Steve

                  * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                  * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                  * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                  Comment


                    #24
                    But how do you prevent her from doing it again? Our, in our case, (7 times before she turned of legal age).
                    We were in a catch 22-we were told in this state your resposible for her, yet we were also told that legally we could not force someone over age of 16 into counseling....

                    Since then she has also ripped off seriously 2 boyfriends, 2 grandmothers and her sister, and who knows who else that we don't know of. She is now almost 22. Her grand total for everyone that we know of is up towards 70 grand.

                    How does family stop being the victim?? The courts don't want to do anything when they find out you share the same address.

                    The rest of us went to a couple of counseling sessions. We were told use "tough love", that most likely she had a spending obsession and we could not prevent it.

                    If the posters wife has that same problem, I'm saying he could be in for a long ride. He says he is a night time trucker--that leaves her plenty of "unsupervised time" to do it again without his knowledge. If you can't prevent it, what do you do??

                    Comment


                      #25
                      Originally posted by mom-from-missouri View Post
                      If the posters wife has that same problem, I'm saying he could be in for a long ride. He says he is a night time trucker--that leaves her plenty of "unsupervised time" to do it again without his knowledge. If you can't prevent it, what do you do??
                      I agree. What do you do? You get a divorce. To me, hidden spending like this is equivalent to having an affair. It is often known as financial infidelity. It is a breach of trust. I couldn't be married to someone who I didn't trust. If it happens again after that, you take legal action. Have them charged with theft, fraud or whatever the appropriate crime is.
                      Steve

                      * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                      * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                      * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                      Comment


                        #26
                        Marriage is not a license to milk the high income earner (or the only income generator) dry. This is where I think the law fails again, it sees marriage in traditional terms but people today are nothing traditional, they see it as a piece of paper and some that do take advantage of the laws as free money. Affairs, secretive spending, marrying just for the benefits etc are a common thing these days. You don't want to wake up one day and be the one holding the bag (of bills) while your spouse leaves you a note saying 'he/she is getting a divorce'. By that time you're already screwed because if your spouse never worked or made less money you're going to have to pay and if you have a kid together you'll be paying for 18 years. So while I agree with Steve majority of the time this is where I don't agree with because I've seen it happen in front of my own eyes.

                        Comment


                          #27
                          I agree with DS married is married things are joint.

                          Sure lots of folk game the system and shouldn't be married, but that doesn't change the fact that marriage is a serious commitment and a joining of more than souls.

                          Though none of that helps the OP....the only reason I could see not paying the CC off is will leaving it help prevent her borrowing more?

                          Comment


                            #28
                            Originally posted by Russell View Post
                            Marriage is not a license to milk the high income earner (or the only income generator) dry. This is where I think the law fails again, it sees marriage in traditional terms but people today are nothing traditional, they see it as a piece of paper and some that do take advantage of the laws as free money. Affairs, secretive spending, marrying just for the benefits etc are a common thing these days. You don't want to wake up one day and be the one holding the bag (of bills) while your spouse leaves you a note saying 'he/she is getting a divorce'. By that time you're already screwed because if your spouse never worked or made less money you're going to have to pay and if you have a kid together you'll be paying for 18 years. So while I agree with Steve majority of the time this is where I don't agree with because I've seen it happen in front of my own eyes.
                            Russell, I'm not so sure we disagree. I see marriage in traditional terms myself. There are lots of couples that never, ever should have gotten married. Their relationships were built on nothing of substance. They aren't committed to each other. They don't communicate. They want the benefits of marriage but they don't want to do the work that is required to have a lasting relationship.

                            My wife and I talk about everything. Neither of us ever makes any major decision, major purchase, etc. without consulting the other. I can't imagine going out and spending thousands of dollars and not telling my wife, and I can't imagine her ever doing it either. We are very financially compatible (something that many couples ignore until it is too late).
                            Steve

                            * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                            * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                            * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                            Comment


                              #29
                              Yes he needs to pay it. Being intractable, he's added substantially to the penalties, interest and damage to her credit rating.

                              I'd advise her to leave him. Obviously he's got her on a tight leash with an allowance and no money for anything else. Is she his wife or his slave?What does she need a husband for that provides for her like this?

                              Didn't they both contribute to their previous bankruptcy? Sounds like he held the purse strings so tightly after that she was forced to betray his trust to be able to spend a dime. Didn't he notice items appearing that she bought?

                              Comment


                                #30
                                Originally posted by wincrasher View Post
                                Didn't he notice items appearing that she bought?
                                When I've seen hidden debt stories on Oprah or Suze or somewhere, I've often asked the same question, but I realize that it really isn't tough to hide spending. If my wife comes home with a new article of clothing, I don't ask how much it was or ask to see the receipt. I will eventually see the charge on the CC bill, but if she had a card I didn't know about, I'd never see it. What I assume is a $20 sweater could just as well be a $100 sweater.

                                Also, lots of money could be spent on consumables. Maybe she's been going to Starbucks everyday without my knowledge. Maybe she's been eating out a lot. It isn't tough at all to burn through $5,000.
                                Steve

                                * Despite the high cost of living, it remains very popular.
                                * Why should I pay for my daughter's education when she already knows everything?
                                * There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.

                                Comment

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