02/07/2013 04:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Reader Questions: Divorce, Getting Out of Debt, Restoring Credit

Question: I just finished paying off my credit cards through credit counseling, bought a house. I then applied for a credit card, got denied due to being in credit counseling. How long should I wait to re-apply again? In the mean time, what could I do to erase the credit counseling on my report?

Answer: When you enroll in a credit counseling program the credit cards you place in that program are generally closed by the creditor. The issue you are facing is not that it might be reported you were in credit counseling but that there is a lack of recent credit usage that is being reported. I don't think it was solely the fact that you were in the program but that it might have been a number of years since current good credit has been reported on your credit report. It's actually very easy to rebuild good credit again, just follow "How to Easily Rebuild Your Credit and Have Good Credit Again." That will do the trick for you.

Question: I'm in a panic about my financial situation. I can't sleep, I'm losing weight, and I can't focus at work. I need to resolve this problem right away. Should I go with a credit counseling company or what should I do?

Answer: The first thing you should do is take a moment to stop and breathe. The last thing I want you to do is react with a clear head and leap to make a decision that might not be right for you. It is clear your financial troubles are weighing greatly on you. The stress and fear are leading you towards a whole host of emotions that may be leaving you depressed, anxious, and causing those symptoms you are experiencing. The last thing you need is a "right away" reaction. Instead what you need is to find the "best and most logical solution" for your situation. I'd suggest you first read "How to Get Out of Debt. The Honest and Unvarnished Truth" and "The Truth About The Success Rates, Failure Rates and Completion Rates of Credit Counseling, Debt Settlement, and Bankruptcy." They will give you a great overview of what we need to deal with to get you moving in the right direction.

Then use the free How to Get Out of Debt Calculator to review your options.

Once you've identified a company you want to work with, then follow my step-by-step guide on what you should look for and expect from a good debt relief company.

Question: I got divorced and my ex-wife is supposed to pay half our joint credit card debt as part of the divorce agreement. The creditors are coming after me now and I've told them she is supposed to pay. What can I do?

Answer: This is one fact people are often confused about. When you divorce your spouse you enter into an agreement about who is to pay what. That divorce agreement does not alter your underlying responsibility for the debt. So let's say your ex-husband is supposed to pay the old joint credit card bill but does not. The creditors can come after you for payment. I often see people who get divorced and convert a dual income household to two single income households. For whatever reason, one partner struggles and can't pay their bills. They decide to file bankruptcy. When they do, all the old joint debts fall to the responsibility of the joint account holder who did not file bankruptcy regardless of what the divorce agreement says. Many times it makes logical sense to follow up a divorce with bankruptcy to terminate all joint obligations and get the fresh start and second chance you are looking for.

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