Debt consolidation is a risky tactic of deliberately ceasing all payments to creditors and forcing your accounts into default to attempt settlements. You pay a monthly fee to a debt consolidator....this entire fee goes towards building a settlement account and to the consolidator's fees to “settle” your accounts in the future. Your credit card companies will deliberately not be paid so that all the accounts will default/charge-off so that they can attempt settlements at around 50%. If you are current on your accounts, this process will ruin your credit rating for sure. Debt settlement is like a roll off the dice with your finances...You can never predict how your creditors will respond to the deliberate defaulting of your accounts...they might settle at 50%...or they might serve you a summons, take you to court...and if they win, you could be looking at wage garnishment. These companies work with credit card debt...not student loans.
As you're probably aware, student loans can't be discharged in Chapter 7, but the $12K in credit card debt can. Maybe filing for Chapter 7 on the credit card debt might be an option. I generally think that $15K is the minimum that anyone should consider filing...but do what you need to do to provide for you and your family. Just remember that you can only file for Chapter 7 once ever 8 years...not every time you get into financial trouble.
Another option is to enter into a debt management plan through CCCS for the credit card debt. They only work with the credit card debt and not student loans. They can negotiate lower interest rates and payments...In general to about 2% of your total balance and interest rates down to 9 - 10%. They will require you to stop using all credit and to cut up your cards. Your credit report will be updated to "enrolled in debt management." This does not damage your credit, but it may make it difficult to obtain new credit while you are enrolled in their program....so don't use this service if you anticipate applying for a new apartment, car loan or mortgage anytime soon, as you would might be denied while you're enrolled in the CCCS debt management program...If your wife need student loans then be careful about entering into this program.