Inside one woman’s divorce facing 166k Debt Alone

On November 8, 2015 I had no idea the night prior would be the last night my husband and I would share a bed. The day started off like any other. He got up and packed a bag to get in his truck because he was an over-the-road truck driver. During the week our conversations were normal like other weeks. But it wasn’t like other weeks. The day before, when he returned home, he only intended to gather more clothes. He stated he felt we needed a break and he was able to say this with a smile on his face.

It was a complete shock to me. I had no clue this was coming. I cried and pleaded and while I did this he laughed at me which only made the moment hurt more to have this man I thought loved me laugh at my pain.

Do what’s best for you

For the first 2 months I stayed home and spoke to no one. I was embarrassed that this had happened to me. It was easy hiding it because I work from home and I did not have to travel into an office for people to see my sadness. I did not tell family or friends what had transpired, but my husband and I were from a small town and I was sure the gossip had begun considering he had moved back there.

I slowly began to pick myself up. I was renting a 2800 square foot home that was costing me $1675 a month for myself and my dog. We had only lived in the home for 2 months before he walked out. I had only rented the home because he wanted it, but I knew I could not afford it. He did not contribute much of his paycheck to the house bills and our finances were separate. I had no idea how much money he made any given week. After reflecting on this home and the amount I was paying for rent for, I decided it was time I thought of myself and break the lease to get an affordable apartment.

At first the husband was not happy with the news. He wanted to keep me on the hook, but I ultimately decided I was not going to continue to pay the rent and he needed to come and collect his things. I felt accomplished that I was able to put my foot down and do something that was good for me.

I began the process of deciding if I wanted to fight for the marriage or was it truly over. In the state of North Carolina you must be separated a year and a day before you can file for divorce. There was still a lot of time to think it through and a lot of time for the husband to continue to bait me and appear as if he was still interested in working things out even though through gossip in my small town I heard he was living with and engaged to another woman while still married to me.

Make a Plan

During the month of April, I decided that I needed to really take a hard look at my finances and determine how best to proceed. I began searching the internet on ways to get out of debt and I stumbled upon Dave Ramsey and the entire YouTube community of people who were doing the same as me and trying to get out of debt. I read The Total Money Makeover in 2 days, created a budget for May and I totaled my debt. I was in total shock and horror to determine that during the marriage of 5 years, we accumulated 31 debts totaling $166,293.09. Even though all the debt was accumulated during the marriage, at that time my husband only paid towards one of the debts for his vehicle (approximately $5000) and I was stuck with the rest. I tried to ask him about helping with the other debts, but he did not care and attempted to blame me for all the debt.

I did not follow Dave Ramsey’s plan completely, but I knew this was a great place for me to start and rebuild. In the first month I paid off 6 debts totaling $1514.42 and it made me feel so good! Prior to the marriage I had a great credit score and only about $20,000 in debt and through the marriage my credit score had dropped to the 500s. Many debts were in collections and several had extremely high interest rates, but I was ready to tackle it all and gain back myself.

Prioritize your peace

The momentum continued throughout the rest of 2016 and I began to chip away slowly at the debt and the numbers were coming down. I began meeting with an attorney in October to file for divorce. I had a decision to make when filing for my divorce on whether I wanted to add the debt in the divorce to attempt to get the husband to pay for some of the debt. I wrestled with the thought. I knew I was ready for this chapter of my life to be over, so I could focus on my future and I knew he would not have paid as he should, and we would have been back in court repeatedly. Also, by having this debt stay between us he could attempt to stay in my life and attempt to manipulate me into being with him again. I did not want to put myself through that and I decided that I would fight this debt all on my own. Many people questioned me and felt I should have fought for him to pay, but I was truly at peace with my decision. I knew it would be a hard and long road, but I knew I was a fighter and I could get through it and come out better for it.

The year was finally up, and the divorce was filed. My husband was in shock for some reason. We had been separated for a year. During that time, he had been with at least one other woman if not more and somehow he thought there was a chance he and I would reconcile even though we both knew that he was with someone else AND put a ring on her ring finger (BTW, the marriage never happened).

It may be a long road, but you can do it

The divorce was final in January of 2017 and it was truly an awesome day! At that point the debt was down to $140,177.77 and as of January of 2019 the debt is down even more to $76,135.04. I knew then and I know now that I have a long way to go, but I know I will get there.

Going through this marriage and divorce taught me so much about myself. While there are times where I feel regret for ever getting married, I appreciate how strong of a person it made me. I am more confident and know myself better now than any other time in my life.

Have you divorced with debt? How did you survive?

Melodie Vines is a Data Architect for a healthcare consulting company and enjoys playing board games. She is a member of a local chapter of Soroptimist International where she volunteers to help empower young girls and women. She is mom to a fur baby named Brandi and living and loving her single life. Connect with her on IG:
@livinglifewithmelodie or via Email: livinglifewithmelodie@gmail.com


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