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Can separation protect me from my spouses liabilities?

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? Arizona

I moved to Arizona last year and my spouse lives in Illinois. We have three children, two in their twenties and one with one more year of high school. While I moved here for a number of reasons including starting a new professional career, his escalating alcohol abuse became the driving force for me to move. The oldest (a girl) recently received her masters degree and is moving out this month to begin a new career here. The middle child (a boy) quit college last year, won't make a decision about returning to school and won't go look for a job. To top it off my husband refuses to do anything about it and continues to pay all of his bills against my objections. He also hands out money to the youngest (almost 18 and also a boy) who consequently won't get a job either. Our original plans called for him to follow me when he is able to close/sell his business and the youngest is out of high school.

He is basically a "functioning alcoholic" holding down a professional job during the day, but his health is beginning to be affected and we can no longer afford health insurance (the last policy required $3,000/month due to his blood work results). I started addressing my concerns more than ten years ago since my own mother died of alcoholism at the age of 45 (for lack of a better scenario she just dropped dead), but he either denied he had a problem or "promised" to get it under control.

I love this man, but am finally fed up and am contemplating legal separation at a minimum.

The business was formed as an S-Corp, but he has personally signed for credit cards, lines of credit and auto leases. In addition to that he has been incurring personal credit card debt on cards where I am an "authorized user" and appears on my individual credit report. I have continually requested that he stop charging necessities on these cards as I know how easy it is for things to get out of control (in other words, we've been there before).

I have done and still do all the financials for the business, for us personally as well as my individual debts here in Arizona. I have been able to eliminate most of our personal debt and am able to completely pay off the last credit card in both of our names, but need to find out what I can do to protect my liability moving forward.

He makes an average of $200K/yr and I make $50K/yr.

These are my questions:
If he can't pay his business debts do these attach before any settlement agreed?

Will paying our personal credit cards off and changing them to an individual account in his name only, be enough to eliminate my liability now or do I have to file the separation first, or will that not work either?

If we are in the process of separation and he incurs medical bills am I liable if something happens to him?

Would I qualify as an innocent spouse in any of these scenarios and be relieved of responsibility?

We do own a home in both of our names (with minimal equity) and he has two equity country club memberships in his name only. We basically have no other assets other than furniture, jewelry, etc.

I know I've given a lot of detail and living in separate states may complicate this, but any information and advice you can offer will at least point me in the right direction. I don't want to head right for divorce because I still have a shred of hope he'll change his lifestyle, but I'm not holding my breath.


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