The quote above was sent to me in a comment by RobotJam. He was referencing my post of a few days ago about a couple of lessons I learned this week.
That post seemed to resonate with a lot of my wonderful readers. I get a number of direct emails in addition to the comments that all can see. In fact, there was so much interest that I feel I need to make a few more points that I left out of the original post in the interest of brevity.
(Yes, I understand the appeal of brevity, even though some of my posts can be wordy as heck.)
(Is heck wordy? One wonders.)
As several of you pointed out, he really needs legal advice. Early in our conversation I asked him if he had consulted with a lawyer. He was non-committal. So later (about an hour into it) I suggested that he talk to a lawyer right away!
He had just told me about one retail store account that his wife had opened, and that had now been turned over to a collection agency for non-payment. The agency was dunning her (of course), but had also called him at home. He asked them if, should he pay off the balance for her, he could then close the account to prevent it from starting all over again. He was told no. The account was not in his name, so he could not close it.
He asked them, “If it’s not in my name, why should I pay for any of the charges?” They told him that as her husband, he can be held legally liable for (at least part of) her debts.
And though I’m NOT a lawyer, my understanding is that in Texas that is true. We are what is called a “community property” state, and generally, barring a contract (like a pre-nuptial agreement) to the contrary, all property and debts are deemed to belong jointly to both parties in a marriage. Even if they are separated!
I’ve also heard that there are ways to limit one’s liability. But yes, my employee needs to speak to a lawyer about this post haste!
Some of you also pointed out the damage this whole episode is doing to their four children. Very true. He told me of the oldest boy’s straight A grades last year, while this year he is failing two (high school) subjects. According to my employee, the wife seems unconcerned about this. (Again, I’m only hearing ONE SIDE of a complex situation.) He thinks she has compulsive spending problems, similar to an addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling. Maybe so.
In any case, be assured that I DID recommend strongly to him to seek legal advice ASAP before she wipes out all of his retirement savings and the accounts he has for the boys’ college. Assuming they can get INTO college if their grades continue to suffer from their parents’ split.
What a mess!
Anyway, many of YOU have also taken on this family’s troubles as I did, doubling them many times over.
I have big-hearted readers.
(Oh, and Rob? I WOULD paint my house green if the mildew were all green, but some of it is black and various shares of dirty gray. Maybe the “camouflage” look is what I need.)