Financially he’s a mess – what can I do?

I need to talk to an expert, but I don’t know who.

Here’s the situation: I am the non-ADHD spouse of an ADHD husband. He was diagnosed about 18 months ago and has been taking medication – with some improvements. We have many issues -- too many to go into here – that I can attribute to his ADHD.

There is one that I am most worried about, lately. He’s irresponsible with money. He makes decisions based on fear and impulse without any thought about how it will impact us in the long term. Recently, I discovered that he took $30,000 out of our IRA to pay for his business expenses. (This is a lot of money for us.) I say “just found out” because I discovered this a year after it happened. He’s been hiding it from me all this time.

This is not the first time he’s done things like this. Over the years, he’s gotten charge cards without my knowledge and bought things on credit without any means to pay for it. I have always bailed him out. I’ve decided that this is never going to change. I think I want to stay married because we have young kids. But, I am not willing to live with the fear of what he might do next nor the risk to my financial future (and the kids). I’m worried that he’s going to incur more debt (or potentially go bankrupt) and I will be responsible for paying for these surprises. I want my kids to be able to go to college. I want to keep our house. Am, I asking for too much?

How can I protect myself financially? Is there anything short of divorce that I can do? Do I need a lawyer, a financial planner, or a coach? I feel like I need to take some measure to protect what assets we have left (from him). I should add that he’s not contributing financially to the support of our family. His business doesn’t make any money. In addition keeping my house running with an ADHD partner, I am also the breadwinner. I’m exhausted. I cut coupons to save 50 cents and, then I find out I’m being sabotaged for tens of thousands of dollars. How can I ever stay afloat with that happening?

What would you do? Who would you ask for help?

The first thing I would do is...

Talk to my bank. You have a regular job with a paycheck, right? You do not need to give him access to that money. Open an account in your name only, at the same bank or a different one, and put your checks into that. Then you pay the basic bills out of that. That should stop you having to worry if the mortgage or the electric bill is paid. Make sure the bank knows not to give him access to it.

If he incurs debt that you haven't signed for, let him deal with it (or declare bankruptcy if he has to). Don't have any joint accounts with him. You are not responsible for things you did not sign for.

Melissa wrote a great post about this

I think the financial aspect of ADHD is one of the hardest for the other partner. I was unable to pay all the bills when he decided not to work any more and it devastated us in ways we may never recover from. I was lucky in that he never spent money without talking to me about it.

Try Consumer Credit Counseling. They are a non-profit that helps people who are over their heads with debt. If he won't go, go alone.

I hope this helps. I feel your pain.

If you live in a state with

If you live in a state with "community property" rules, debts racked up by one spouse are owed by both. If you live in a state with "common law" rules, a debtor spouse is responsible for themselves. The exceptions to common law debt are debts that occur in the marriage due to family things like children's tuition or a group plan for health insurance.

As far as I know, the community property states where creditors can sue one spouse for the indebtedness of their better half are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin and Washington State. You'll have to do some fact checking to make sure. I know this sounds cheesy, but you might want to check out the Suze Orman Action Plan book. I don't know if you've read any of her stuff or watched her show, but her focus on money again and again is "How to protect yourself."  

Cheers, C39