Husband Still Living at Home and Not Paying the Bills

Updated on March 03, 2009
H.L. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
23 answers

i have a friend who is having marriage issues. her husband 1 month ago told her he was leaving and still has not left but is not paying any of the bills. he does not come home until all hours of the night and she knows she cant leave the house but what can she do? they have 2 children together and he is not giving her money for food either. as her friend i will not let her or her children starve but i am not in any postion financially to pay her bills. she works but not full time and her wages are insulting so its not so easy to tell her to get a lawyer. that is an expense in itself that is way over her head please advise.. nonjudgemental advise only please... thank you all for your time

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answers from Philadelphia on

Have her contact a divorce lawyer. This is not the kind of advice you want to follow from moms on a message board.

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1 mom found this helpful


answers from Scranton on

She needs to tell him he has to go, as he said he would or start contributing. Perhaps he is still there because she is afraid of him. In that case she can go to victims intervention, which can be found in the phone book. Assuming there is one in her area. The best thing you can do is be there for her. It sounds like you are a great friend, which is what she needs most in this situation. You being there for her will give her the strength she needs to deal. Good luck to you all.

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answers from Altoona on

So far all this guy has done is state his intention to leave, and he is not contributing to the ‘bills’. This does not automatically make him into some kind of abusive fiend.

Some of what people have posted is good advice. And some if it will do nothing but make life a living hell for your friend.

I’m going to inject some cold hard reality here, so please don’t take this the wrong way, and it’s not intended to be offensive, just DIRECT and to the point.


The best advice I can give to her is: Don’t do anything STUPID.

I can’t stress this enough…

What do I mean by this?

As fun as it may be to contemplate selling this guy’s stuff, or throwing it out on the lawn for a little sport/revenge… BAD IDEA.


Changing the locks?

Even worse idea. It’s his house too, and he has every LEGAL right to break the door down. And if she locks him out, it’s exactly what he’ll do. You can’t lock someone out of their own home. So unless she wants the door busted in, which he is well within his legal rights to do, don’t change the locks. You’ll only keep him out for the time it takes him to take a hammer to the door, and the police will NOT stop him from doing this. In fact, I’ve been present in a situation here in PA, where a fellow was locked out of his house by his estranged wife, and the police officer actually said “Bust the door in, it’s your house.” So there you go. The police will NOT stop him from busting the door down. This situation is considered ‘domestic’ and they are utterly LOATHE to get involved in he said she said situations, as they are most often laced with large amounts of B.S. where one party accuses the other of everything under the sun.

If you DO change the locks, you then put yourself into a position where you are aggravating the situation and making it much, MUCH worse than it has to be.

You also risk seriously ticking this guy off. Never a good idea, especially if he is out of work, and/or feels his life is in the gutter at the moment. You didn’t list his employment status, so I don’t really know if the fellow is out of work or not.

Most guys are bigger than most women. Unless they are serious workout buffs, the strongest woman physically still pales in comparison to the average man. If he gets miffed enough, your friend might just end up as a permanent decoration on the wall.

And nothing ticks a guy off more than someone messing with his ‘stuff’.


If you do, you are just ASKING for problems.



You can’t close a joint account without the signature of the other party. Also, if you remove money out of a joint account, and put it into your own, separate account, make sure that you are not taking HIS money.

You want to seriously tick someone off beyond all reason? Loot their bank account. That’ll do it.

You may think that she’s ‘entitled’ to money in a joint account, but if for example his paycheck is automatically put into there on payday, and he goes to withdraw some of it, and his entire paycheck is GONE, do you really want to deal with the fallout from that after he comes home so ticked off he can’t even see straight? BAD IDEA.

And lastly, have they tried to actually RECONCILE and work this thing out?

Why does it automatically have to end in divorce? Too many people take the easy way out, and maybe if she still loves him, he’ll find the heart to be a man, step up to the plate and take care of his family. Perhaps he just needs a little help. He might be a pretty good guy, who is just in a slump. Guys aren’t immune to stress or clinical depression either. He’s only human after all. Give the fellow the benefit of the doubt, and you might just be surprised at the positive result.

We are in the middle of a Recession, headed full bloom into a Depression. Unemployment is the highest since the 1920’s. Actual figures are something like 17.5% nationwide. Now is NOT the time to be moving out on one’s own and separating a family unless there is dire need.

At the very least, can they agree to live as FRIENDS, until they both get more financially stable?

If she absolutely decides to go the way of divorce, then she needs to find a competent attorney and ask up front if they do Pro Bono. Most don’t some do, at least you’ll know. If they do, it won’t cost you anything. Key term here is COMPETENT.

And be prepared for a very, very long, bumpy, and hellish ride.

Also, if either of them is foolish enough to think that it is a good idea to falsely accuse the other person of anything, such as ‘neglect’ or ‘child abuse’ in order to get full custody of the children… be prepared that she may be found unfit herself and, lose them to state custody. Permanently.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lancaster on

People have offered some good advice but she can't just change the locks legally. He owns half the house. Tell her to contact a lawyer explain the situation and in some cases they will give her a free consult and work with her on payment plan.

She really needs legal advice because if she goes about this the wrong way it will be her who pays the price if he is spiteful.

Tell her to call a lawyer to give her options.

Continue to be supportive as she will need it.

Best of luck to her and her kids.


answers from Allentown on

Hi H.,

Tell her about the Family Group Decision Conference (FGDM.)

Their number is : ###-###-####

She needs help. He is using intimidation to control his wife.

Hope this helps. Good luck. D.



answers from Philadelphia on

Call the Womens help organization. They can help refer you to the correct sources.
Call for a free consultation with a Lawyer. Bensalem PA.area Jean Sinitski Lawyer works with that womens organization ####-###-####
You may be able to negotiate the house in for you to stay in it. He may want to keep his 401 plan& not give you any part of it, in the divorce. Best of luck & I'll say a prayer or 2 for you. It can get ugly. Call the womens Organization though, they will try to work with you on low income status. Get on W.I.C for the kids under 5 yo too. that helps.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Dear Holly,
You probably see her situation a lot more clearly than she does right now. As a friend, your role is tricky because there is a fine line between helping and enabling, and you don't know the nature of the emotional intanglement that is going on between her and her husband -- the things that bought them together to begin with. You can't really get involved because she has to have the strength to begin a very difficult journey in her own time. You can listen, but whatever you say to her could turn her against you, if she is not ready to hear it. If I were you, I would keep on saying that this situation is not right and that you are really sorry she has to deal with this. In this way you can support her with your friendship and still stay out of it. You might get tired of hearing her complain about it, and frustrated if she does not change it when it is obvious that she should. Just listen and don't judge her. Assure her that you are her friend no matter what. It never hurts to pray! :) It will all unfold in God's time the way it is supposed to. The best thing you can do is give her moral support.



answers from Philadelphia on

Have they discussed his irresponsibilty already If so & he hasn't changed...

Take it all away. Give him a reality check.

First she needs to close any joint accounts and put that money in a new account that's just hers. Second start calling around for legal help... even though it's pricey as anything maybe she could work out a payment plan or something with whomever she goes with. Third, do the small things another responder said like changing locks, see about getting an order to keep him out & away from the house.

Rally friends and family to help in this time of need. Try to find another or better paying job to help with money. Maybe job will give a small raise?

Depending on husband a restraining order may be necesssary & letting childrens schools know that mother is the only person to take children out of school. Seperation and divorce can be extremely nasty-so be prepared for ANYTHING. People can do some downright mean and hurtful things when it comes to the money and their reputations.

I've never been divorced, but have seen many who have. Father is with his 4th wife and last divorce got nasty.

Hopefully, everyone involved with this will make it out ok.I do know from experience some children get the blunt of the anger.

You are an awesome friends for doing all you can. She already has an angel on her side!

Good Luck & Remind your friend it will get better.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm sorry for your friend that her husband did not have enough regard for her or their children to give notice. We are expected to give notice at our jobs when we are quitting - he could have done as much for his family.

Tell your friend to pull herself together and figure out how to scrape by without him. In the long run she can file for child/spouse support. For now, she can't force him to take care of his bills (share of the bills). He's probably saving his money to go start a new life. She needs an lawyer, and it sounds like she can't afford NOT to get one.



answers from Pittsburgh on

H., your friend should try to see if an attorney would take her case on a "contingency basis." Money can be taken out of any settlement she might get. But, she should also contact her local court or if there is a women's shelter or women's help center. They may be able to tell her an attorney who could help her.




answers from Pittsburgh on

She has to do things for her self. My sister-in-law went through the same thing and she had to file for divorce and when it was final she kicked him out by order of the judge. She kept track of what he owed her and the judge tookit off of his settlement. She is not allowed to cick him out becasue it si his house too and they are still married. Now sh eis my ex-sister-inlaw and she did the right thing. My brother tried for a while to come to his house adn she called the police every time he tried because it was her house then.
good luck



answers from Philadelphia on

There is help out there she just has to find it. She should call the welfare office and ask them for help. I agree with calling a women's shelter, that is probably a good place to get advice also. But most importantly she needs to talk to a lawyer. Lots of lawyers give free consultations and some of them do discounted or pro-bono (sp?) work. The welfare office may be able to give her help with that also. If she doesn't get a lawyer she still needs to petition the courts for child support and possibly custody. She needs to get things started...she is only going to make things worse by waiting. The Domestic Relations office may even be able to assign her a lawyer or assist her in some way. Tell her to start making phone calls asap. It's good that she has a friend like you looking out for her...sounds like she's gonna need it.



answers from Philadelphia on

To be frank, your friend needs to tell her husband to leave the house. It is still his responsiblity to take care of the children which would under normal circumstances be child support. I understand that lawyers are expensive but she can get one and then sue the husband in court for the costs incurred by the attorney. She can file with the courts herself for child support and they can get a legal seperation if they both go to a notary and sign a document that says so and after that is done if he is not paying any of the bills and the house is at least in both of their names she can have him removed from the house because he would have to show receipts to prove he did if he wanted to stay. After she gets him out of the house and gets the seperation she can apply for help, so long as she doesn't make too much, from the state and her husband's income will not be counted.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi H.,

I am sure someone might have mentioned it already, but many lawyers will do a legal consultation for little or no money. Your friend could go through the court system and see if they can recommend any family law lawyers who would be willing to consult on how to proceed. She unfortunately will not be eligible for any state aid if she is still legally married and her husband has an income since the determination will be based on both incomes. If her husband is still deciding to move out then it might benefit her to be the one to file for divorce to force his hand and set things in monition. If they are thinking of working it out then they could use some counseling. Also, if her husband is still working and they have a joint account, she is well within her rights to take money out of the account on a monthly basis to cover living expenses. I hope the situation resolves quickly.



answers from Harrisburg on

I would have her go down and file divorce papers and ask a judge or lawyer how to get him out of the house. He's the one that wanted out so I'd start the process. I'd have the locks changed while he's gone and put his clothes and stuff on the porch. Do have her talk to a lawyer. But I am one crazy woman and I'd start throwing his things in the yard and start selling his stuff to pay bills. Gotta feed the kids, lol! If he wanted to play games and after being asked refuses to support his children, then let the games begin!

K. B
chat and events within 2 hour radius.



answers from Philadelphia on

I'm sorry to hear about your friend, but my advice too, is to ask a professional - if she and her husband can't work things out, she MUST get a lawyer. Asking about financial assistance from the state is wise, and if she ends up not qualifying, see if Legal Aid can recommend an attorney who might work with her on a payment plan.

Good luck.



answers from Philadelphia on

What a situation. You are being such a good friend. I would advise you tell her to have the locks changed and contact a family lawyer. He is putting the kids in danger and the lawyer will know the best way to protect the family. He has no right to live rest free...



answers from Erie on

She could change the locks while he's out -- and call the cops if he tries to beat the door down . . .

She could move out with the kids - and apply for assistance if she hasn't yet. If she doesn't make much money, there's food stamps, medicaid health benefits for the kids, rental assistance and sometimes a cash supplement.

Is he working ? Then she has lots of time during his working hours to come up with a plan . . .

Make a list of options, some ludicrous, some realistic - just brainstorm it all out

She SHOULD absolutely close any bank account she has and put the money in an account only she has access to.

after the brainstorming, what she probably really 'ought' to do is to catch him at a lucid moment and ask him what his plans are. Tell him that since he's planning to move out, she wants to know when he's leaving. Ask him to pick a date, and suggest some ideas (are you leaving in 2 weeks? a month?), and let him know that he is not welcome to live with her indefinately when he has no commitment left to her or the family. Also, ask him to let her know where he will be living when he goes in case she needs to contact him regarding the children. She should think through what items she is willing to have him bring with him when he goes, and what she needs to keep for her and the children. Once he sets a date, she can push him to stick to it. And she can tell him that after that date, she expects to receive child support, and, if he hasn't moved out, she expects to receive rent from him.

Do they have a mortgage ? They need to decide who is going to pay what bills. She could bring a list of them to the discussion, and simply ask him what bills he is going to pay. She probably knows how much money he makes, and she knows what she makes, and they can go on a percentage basis (if he makes 4 times what she makes, he should put 4 times as much into the bills that are joint) Try not to be emotional, angry or judgmental, just ask the questions, plan the break up. When and how do we tell the kids ? Do you want to see them after you leave? How often do you plan to call to check in and see how they are doing ?

When he discovers she's ready to let him go, he may be surprised, and he may go, or he may discover he doesn't really want to leave. Then she has to decide whether or not she's willing to continue to live with someone who is unfaithful. (I"m not talking sex here, but that's probably another issue, too. He's obviously not faithful in terms of supporting the family, creating a positive home environment, etc . . . I would avoid discussions of the the particulars at this point. If he wants to leave, let him go, because you can't keep someone who doesn't want to stay, and focus on the issues of "how" we split up, and "when" and "how we survive afterwards.)

In reality, she SHOULD see a lawyer, because if he moves out, and doesn't file for divorce, she won't get child support unless he's feeling generous. She needs to do some homework and search for legal services she can get to start the process if he won't.

Does she have family she can stay with temporarily? Is she willing to get some job training so she can support her children without his help? Is she able to get and keep a better job ? Being a single mom is hard work, and it's scary to take the steps toward independence, but it's also a bit freeing, to get out of a horrible situation where you aren't wanted, and to find you can make your way in the world, hard as it is.

I really think the first step is to find a better job. You really can't leave if you don't have any money at all. . .



answers from Philadelphia on

She really has no choice but to get, or at least speak to, an attorney. Look in the yellow pages; some advertise a free consultation; others charge a couple hundred dollars for it. She may be able to get an emergency support hearing where a judge will mandate what he has to pay...but she can't do this by herself. If she can't find someone who gives free consultations, perhaps she can borrow the money for it or the attorney may accept credit cards. If she doesn't act soon, he will ruin them financially, put them in bankruptcy, foreclosure, etc. I'll keep her and her children in my thoughts and prayers.



answers from Scranton on

Do they have separate bank accounts or something? It seems to me that she should be able to take the money from the account to pay for food and bills.
If they own the house together and she moves out with the kids, in the divorce, he could try to get the house saying that she "abandoned" it. Really, she needs to sit down with him and talk about expectations as far as paying the bills goes. Also, I'd recommend that she starts to record all the bills and expenses, save all of her receipts so that going forward, she can show the judge just how much money it requires to run the household. This will help to get her a fair amount in child support when the time comes.
Also, have you ever seen those commercials that tell you you can call thing agency/number if you are not receiving the child support you are owed? I wonder if she called them, if they'd be able to point her towards a pro bono attorney or give her some advice so that she can ensure that she's getting something from him while they are still legally married.
Best of luck to her and the kids!



answers from Allentown on

if she makes so little money, she would qualify for legal aid.

Any place she can go with the kids?

She can't just say for him to leave if they rent and his name on lease she stuck, if they own and both names on the property she is stuck again.

Is he abusive? that about the only way she can get him out.



answers from Pittsburgh on

There really is no other way, other than getting legal advice from an attorney. Encourage your friend to take advantage of the resources others have already mentioned, and as soon as possible.



answers from Lancaster on

Has your friend called the police for information? They may tell her what she can do legally - is she allowed to simply change the locks while he is out so he gets the message, or does she have to leave herself to get rid of him? She needs to go to domestic relations and file for support - she may qualify for spousal support as well(this is a free service) - and go in the direction of starting over.

Next question: Experience: Husband Hiding Cheating Them Move Out. Divrce Papers