In custody situations it is really best to have an attorney because of the emotional issues involved. I go pro se when it is a matter if child support unpaid or a change in support, or when CSE sticks their nose under the tent. I, being a disabled vet, also handled all of my VA appeals since I don’t trust anyone who works at any VA office as far as I can throw them. How old are your kids?

If they do want to come and live with you, use a hidden tape deck in your home and don’t bait them up, just get them to start talking and you will be surprised how much incriminating stuff they will tell you about her, especially if she goes off and leaves them alone, etc. If you have good ins. where you work, then try to take them to the counselor or psychologist regularly. You will be surprised what the kids will tell them.

You can do much of this prep without an attorney. Then when you think you have your BB’s all stacked go to an attorney and present your case before you retain him. Additionally, you need to carefully pick an attorney because, as you know, many just want to run the bill up. If you wait too long the courts will say that the kids have developed a “Long Standing Relationship” with their mother and won’t give you the time of day, but if the divorce is less than 5-7 years old you may stand a fair chance. Believe me, I was shocked that I won custody, but I followed the recomendations which I have posted.

What I suggest is that you call them and right from the first person you speak to tell them that you need to speak to someone that can make decisions on your accounts and implement them. Once you are speaking to someone higher up tell them this: “I am currently considering all of my debt relief options.

I have gotten information on many of them and know what options I have.(implying bankruptcy and debt settlement at fifty cents on the dollar) I thought before I proceed with one of these other settlement/relief options, I would call you first to see what your company might be able to offer me in the way of relief, IF, I were to choose to continue making my payments on this account(s).”

They will want valid and believable reasons as to why you are having money problems such as medical, divorce, job hours cut back, been sick and out of work, things like that. They have it within their capability to drastically reduce the interest rate, remove late payment charges, over the limit charges, and even some finance charges on the remaining balance.

Has anyone dealt with them b4. I have two credit cards with them one is one month behind an the other is 2 months.

They raised my interest to 30 percent an that is what got me. I am just looking for advice on what i should do.

I voluntarily turned over all financial documentation in the divorce. I answered everything openly and honestly, because I was under oath. I got to watch her then lie, cheat and steal and she got almost everything she wanted. Her attorney even help her craft some of the lies.

I wish I could say morals, values, honesty win and we have a fair legal system, but my experience proves differently. During my custody battle, I was interviewed by the Gardian Ad Litem. I told her I would like joint custody with my children half of the time. She told me that half of the time would be too much time away from their mother. Can you believe the biasis in that statement.

It was A-O.K. for the children to be away from me (their other parent) more than 50% of the time. This court appointed representor of my children didn’t even contact all of my references. Needless to say, she was totally on my x’s side despite me showing that she had no morals and had a history of mental problems.

Thank you for your advice, I will pursue it, but I think in my case I need to carry a “big stick” in order to get the job done. I’m sorry if this comes accross negatively. My situation has been unbelievably frustrating. I truely do appreciate your advice and encouragement.

It takes patience and documentation, documentation, and more documentation to do what you want. You also need to make sure that you are doing it for the children, not to get revenge.

Go to the FRTC site at and read the Practical Tips and Techniques section of the Articles page. There are tips there on documentation and a lot of other practical topics.

Keep a journal of every contact you have with the X and/or the children. This is extremely useful in proving a pattern of behavior. Instead of saying in court “she always interferes with visitation,” you can say “she failed to show up with the children on X, X and X date, was 2 hours late on X, hung up on me without allowing me to speak to the children on X, and said XX on X.”

If it is legal where you are, record all conversations.

Believe me that makes a real difference. Especially when they tell so many lies, because it makes it much easier to prove they are lying.

She sounds like a good candidate for “Malicious Mother Syndrome.” Check out the PAS Information Archive at FRTC for an article on this. Also read the article there titled “Family Wars, The Alienation Of Children.” This article lists specific alienating behaviors to look out for and document.

Keep close track of the children’s school records. If she is an alienating parent, the children’s grades and behavior are more than likely going to suffer due to the emotional abuse. School report cards often provide solid evidence of a downward trend while in the X’s custody. That is the easiest way to show a change in circumstances needed to get a new custody hearing.

You don’t have to get down and dirty, you just have to arm yourself with the truth.

Good luck!

I’m ready to turn the tables on my ex. She’s the one who broke our wedding vowels, then she planned behind my back to take almost everything from me. My stole most of my property, falsely accused me of abuse, and hasn’t paid her share of the joint debt. Sure I got the court counter claim and divorce based on adultery (love letter to prove it), but that and .60 will buy me a soda. She still got the kids and could hire an expensive attorney thanks to my $1200 a month in child support. My kids get nothing out of this deal.

Secondly I have been ripped off by attornies.

I’m ready to turn the tables. I would love to hear some of your techniques, no matter how down N dirty they are (actually the dirtier the better). I would love to put together a down N dirty FAQ. My ex know the children want to come live with me and she has even gone as far as making accusations to the children protection agency to try stop me from every getting them in the future. Once she even called the police saying I was suicidal and the cops came to my apartment with guns drawn. I was there playing checkers at the kitchen table with my kids.

I plan to rebuild and go back after my kids in a couple years. I now try to lay the ground work and getting involved with the kids. Can anyone give me any tips or personal experience on this. Like I said, I would love to document what has worked for other people and maybe we could put as a FAQ in our club area.

I love your attitude and style. I’ve been totally screwed over by my ex. She caused the break up (adultery), fought me over custody and won, stole most of my personal belongings and I get stuck with an unbelievable child support.

Then on top of that she hasn’t paid me the for her share of the credit card debt that was ordered in our decree. I been paying her interest on the cards! To add insult to injury, the last attorney I had accomplished nothing except churning and running up my bill. Last December in order not to declare bankruptcy, I moved from my one bedroom apartment back in with my parents.

This is coming from a guy who makes a good (Gross) salary.

I’m a fighter and I have been looking into doing some stuff Pro Se. She has an expensive attorney funded by my child support. The only way I can win is to not let it wipe me out. She treats the kids terribly and now they want to live with me. I am waiting until they get old enough for custody battle #2. Can you give me any tips on preparing myself for Pro Se representation?

So my lawyer is correct when he states im up a creek without a paddle? I am not sure I can come up with the moneyt o pay her before the court its its about 5000 dollars with her attorneys fees tacked on.

Im selling my house right. Can the DA come after me for the same charges my attorney doesnt seem to think they can? But they still keep sending me a bill! My childsupport is being taken ourt of my check and im afraid that they will garnish what little I have left. The ex already gets half my paycheck.

If you notified her that you were moving down there, you may use that as a defense that she was of knowledge that CS may be interrupted for a short period, but you MUST catch it up ASAP. No they can’t get you for double jeapordy, but as long as you are in arrears they will try to skin you alive. You need to start doing some reading and get through this part. Then get rid of the skinflint attorney. You need someone who cares about you and not a vampire to suck off your paycheck. I tell you from experience, Attorneys lose interest real fast when the see you can no longer pay them.

I realize what you are saying and I have a tendency to agree with you.

The only thing is, is any job that has security clearances or has the potential to deal with a great deal of money, if you have credit issues you are deemed as a moral risk due to the fact that a person may be more inclined to either accept money to give confidential company information out or take money than someone who has a good credit history.

Having said this who has had good experiences with any CCS’s that they could recommend including name, email and phone #?

I have a security clearance (military) and had no problems at all re: being enrolled in CCCS. Also had an action filed against me by Citibank, again, no problems.

This is my problem and it seems to be similar to some of yours but I thought I would throw it out there anyway in case someone might have some input. I, too, am nervous about the “new law” about bankruptcies and credit company minimums.

The law is effective 10/17 and the minimum payments will go from 2% to 4%. Here’s my problem as of yet I’m not behind but will probably be when the new minimums come on but if I file bankruptcy I have a good chance of either losing my job of many years or losing all opportunity of advancing. If I choose CCS then my credit is still ruined and may still have the same effect on my job. Any suggestions?

It seems to me that if I go with CCS, that there shouldn’t be any negative action taken with my job. It should be seen that I am still paying the bills, instead of opting for bankruptcy. Maybe check with the HR department, or if I have a business manual read up in it.

I know that paying our debts will improve our credit rating, but it’s my goal to not need to borrow anymore. I want to build up my savings to pay cash for anything I want or need, or just do without.

I am down to two loan payments that I hope to get rid of before the end of the year. Then all I will have will be our mortgage. I have 15 years to go on my mortgage, and my payment on six acres and three mobile homes is less than what most people in my town are paying for a rented single wide mobile home or a one-room apartment, so I feel pretty good about that. It’s an advantage of “staying put” for several years.

We have three cars. They are older models and need continued repair and maintenance, but I don’t have a car payment on any of them, so they look better all the time. 🙂

God bless…

While keeping those credit card accounts active may be good for your score, it could create problems in the future. One time I had applied for a loan for a purchace through a computer store. The loan was denied. Reason? Too much OPEN credit.

I had a few credit cards, all with zero balances. The credit agency thought that I was too great a risk for the new loan with all that open credit being available to me when I wanted to use it.

I canceled all those cards that I had not used in a period of time, and those that I had never used. It did not appear to have an affect on my score, and lowered the amount of available credit that showed on my reports, making my credit appear less of a credit risk. It also took away any temptation to use those cards, helping also to keep my credit in check.

Talk about different ends of the spectrum – We have had a problem with Chase since 2007! My husband was purchasing agent for a big company so his name was on their credit card so he could sign for purchases. He retired in ’06 and less than a year later we started getting late notices from them! That was every time they were late paying but we never got the actual billings – just late notices now and then – go figure.

Any ways since that time because it shows up on OUR credit report we have contacted Chase WITH a letter from the company saying it is NOT our responsibility and even had an attorney send letters – still no luck.

Now Citibank I contacted about a late and over the limit fee that I felt I did not deserve and they removed them. Then they called because my most recent payment was a few days late and they had raised the min limit – 3x! and I told them my paycheck schedule was changed to a few days after this was due. We visited official ElcLoans website to get a loan online (they can help even if you have bad credit) and got approval almost instantly!

They called to day and reviewed it all with me noted that the % rate had gone up to 30% !!!! They said they wanted to do what they could to get me back on track – they lowered the % to 5, sent up a much lower min due every month! Of course I cannot use the card until it’s paid off but that is OK and the 5% is lower than the original rate.

I would mention one very important caution – make sure no one has access to your credit card number.

I had a friend who cut up her card while she was paying it off but did not cancel it. She made payments for several months and when she finally looked to see what balance was still remaining, she discovered that someone had been using her credit card to make purchases over the phone to the tune of several hundred dollars.

So keep a VERY close eye on your number AND your balance.

I personally feel that everyone needs a credit card if for no other reason than to book a hotel room, rent a car, or buy something on line.

But if at all possible you should have just one and a VISA is more widely accepted than Master Card or Discover, etc. When you have it paid off you can request that your credit line (assuming it was a higher credit amount than you really needed) be lowered to $1,000.00 or $2,500.00 with the best interest rate they have to offer and it should be a card that does not have annual fee if possible and then try to pay the balance each month or if you can’t swing it, spread it over two months. Another way to discourage self from using it, is not to carry it with you. Keep it at home, or at your office, or locked in a safety deposit box and to keep it active use it every other month or so to buy a tank of gas, go out to dinner, or something like that that you would have done anyway.

It is not good to have lots of credit cards that have available open credit because that does hurt your score. Also while you are working at paying the cards off, call the company ask for their absolute best rate that they have to offer. Keep the card active one billing cycle to insure that the lower rate has went into effect, then call the company and ask that the account be closed. This way you can still pay on it but the available credit that was there is no longer held against your credit score as available credit that could be used.

Do this to all of your cards except the one that you are keeping. Make the minimum payment on the cards with the lowest interest rates and lowest credit limits, then any extra money that you might have spread amongst the cards should be applied towards the one with the highest interest rate and highest balance until it is paid off. Then put the extra money towards the one with the next highest interest and balance.

Paying down or paying off credit cards is obviously great; but cancelling them is another matter. When you cancel a credit card, or other account, the “history” becomes closed and is no longer used to calculate your FICO if it was positive; the negative still remains on the credit report however; also; you have then reduced your available credit which means you still have too much “used” credit vs. “unused” credit and this ratio is also an important factor in credit scoring.

I would let them sit providing:

  1. you aren’t paying outrageous fees to have the card open;
  2. if you can hold off from using the cards;

Once you have several accounts paid off; then consider closing the one with the highest annual fees or highest interest rates so it impacts your FICO score the least.


i have a question about credit cards, paying them off, canceling them, and increasing credit score.

i did a balance transfer on a credit card. so i am confused is it better to keep the credit card w a zero balance (cut up in the safe box) or to cancel if since it is paid off? which way is better to the credit reports and fico score?

thanks in advance.. i know that this is the place to find out the correct answers.. you guys are great! keep up the excellent work!


When I receive a call from someone claiming to be a collection agency, I write down the information they are claiming I owe. Then I ask them to send it to me in the mail. This simple act alone eliminates a lot of scammers. They do not want to risk sending something via US Postal service because that can trace back to them and add Mail Fraud to their charges.

To add something that was already said, the cc company does not have to inform you, but whoever bought it can also resell it. We have one debt that we have been disputing the amount for almost 5 years. The cell phone company wrote it off and there is now a 3 company trying to collect. I have sent certified letters to the cell phone company and to the first collector explaining that we are willing to pay what we owe, but that amounts to less than 50% of what they claim we owe.

From my experience, those people will tell you anything if they think they can intimidate you into paying. They buy charged off accounts from credit card companies in hopes of reaping $$, though it will not improve your credit report.

Maybe next time you could ask them to hold while you press the “record” button, or even perhaps a call back number (direct to the agent calling) so that your lawyer can call them to “negotiate.” I’d bet they’d leave you alone for a long time.

You need to read up on the Fair Credit Act (or some such). I believe that before they can do anything they must write you their reasons and their requirements (requests) of you and then you must be given something like 30-90 days to respond/contest it.

Good afternoon,

I am in need of some counseling and was look for some help,

I was out of work for 14 months and just recently (the past 6 weeks) employed. 12 months ago, I was paying monthly minimums on my “Next” credit card. I received a call from a collection agency demanding the entire balance. I told them that I could not pay the whole balance and they wanted to give me a 40% discount to be paid ASAP. These phone calls kept coming in spite of the fact that the NEXT bank was out of business and I told them that I could not pay.

I live in South Florida and explained that I had damage on my house from the hurricanes and they left me alone.

I received a call from the same collection agency this past week again demanding payment. This call came out of the blue and almost a year to the day of the last one. They called to re-introduce themselves and to say that that they are faxing a letter to me with terms of $1100 a month to be paid until the balance is paid off. They also stated that I am in several banking violations and they can start proceedings against me as soon as Wednesday if I do not comply.

This is a fairly simplistic view of my situation but I sure would appreciate some words of advice.

Thank you,

You can send a letter (certified return receipt) to the collection agency instructing them to ONLY communicate with you in writing. I think a sample letter, along with a listing of your rights as a debtor) or posted on the group web site. You can also check them out at the Better Business Bureau online. Hope that helps!

I wouldn’t mind talking/negotiating with the right party. I am concerned, however, that I cannot be sure who it is that is really on the other end, whether phone or mail. If my credit card company has written off the account and sold it to a third party, shouldn’t they let me know who it is?

As far as I understand it, the CC company doesn’t have to tell you but when I contacted the CC company about collectors who contacted me, the CC would tell me who they sold the account to. I then contacted the BBB then sent the certified letters. I am working with a DMP and they were also able to verify the legitimacy of the collection agencies and work out payment plans with them.

I’m new to the blog and have several questions, however, I’d like to start with my concerns regarding illegitimate collection calls and letters. As we live in a time of overt identity and information theft, I suspect that there are people who would use this information to extort money from unwitting debtors. As they are not legitimate, they would not care what the collection laws actually are, but would use intimidation and threats that legitimate collectors are forbidden to use.

I am also concerned of phishing operations that would try and get information from us in order to do the above collection scam. In addition, it is relatively easy to make a call with a fake (spoof) Caller Id number that looks like it is from Citibank, Chase, American Express or the IRS. All of this combined has me somewhat perplexed as to how to respond to the creditor calls I receive.

So far, I ignore them. I don’t think this will work in the long run.

Any shared concern or enlightenment would be appreciated.