It’s essential to protect your credit during divorce

After a divorce, your credit will be more important than ever. Most people need to either rent an apartment or buy a new house. They often need to get some type of loan, such as for a new car. They may need to look for a job.

That’s why it’s essential to take steps to protect your individual credit, which has likely become entwined with your spouse’s during the marriage, before, during and after the divorce.

It’s essential to be cautious about what your spouse is doing with any joint credit cards and bank accounts. Consult with your attorney about the steps you need to take to start separating your accounts.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for large unnecessary withdrawals by your spouse from your bank accounts as well as significant charges to your credit cards. Angry, vindictive spouses have been known to drain bank accounts and leave their husband or wife holding the bag for significant credit card debt. If you believe that your spouse is taking such actions, tell your attorney immediately so that he or she can work to put a stop to it.

Another problem that can negatively impact your credit is if you and/or your spouse don’t make timely payments on your joint financial obligations. This includes not just mortgages, car loans and other joint debt, but things like utility bills. It’s essential that spouses determine who will continue to make these payments during the divorce process.

Even if your spouse has agreed to take responsibility for some of them, it’s important to verify that these bills are being paid in full and on time if your name is on them. Sometimes spouses will neglect to pay these bills as promised not out of malice, but because they simply forgot in the midst of the tumult of the divorce.

It’s essential to keep an eye on your credit score not just during the divorce, but for a while afterwards to ensure that it isn’t being damaged by something your spouse did. If your spouse was the one who handled the bill paying, investing and other financial matters during the marriage, it may be worthwhile to hire a financial advisor to help you make smart decisions as you enter this new phase of your life. Your family law attorney can likely recommend someone in your area with experience helping divorced people.

Source: NerdWallet, “3 Ways Divorce Can Affect Your Credit Score,” Shawn Leamon, Jan. 11, 2017

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