Divorce can be a highly emotional process. However, it's also one where you have to make some very important decisions to protect your financial well-being. Part of this is protecting your credit.
Even amicable divorces can affect your credit. You and your spouse are dividing up credit cards, loans and other debt that can impact your credit score and ability to obtain credit. You'll need to monitor your credit score and credit reports throughout and after your divorce to ensure that they're not adversely affected – at least any more than necessary. You'll need good credit if you're looking for a new home – or even an apartment – or buying a car.
Dividing joint debts with your spouse
Sometimes, when couples divide their debt in a divorce, they'll each agree to take responsibility for paying off individual items. Maybe each spouse will agree to pay off one of their joint credit cards. That can (and should) be detailed in the divorce agreement.
The problem is that credit card companies don't recognize divorce agreements. They only recognize the fact that you are both listed as owners of the credit card account. As long as your name is still on a credit card account, you're just as responsible for making payments as your spouse. If they don't make those payments on time, your credit will take a hit.
Verify that your ex is making timely payments
The best way to protect yourself is to continue to monitor the statements and activity for any credit cards or other debt products your ex has agreed to pay off. Be sure that you continue to receive statements. If they're not paying on time or making payments at all, you may have to do it to preserve your credit rating.
However, be sure to notify your attorney if your ex isn't complying with the terms of the agreement. If necessary, you may be able to take some legal action. One thing you definitely don't want them doing is filing for bankruptcy and sticking you with the payments on all of your joint debts.
If you don't believe your spouse can be trusted to pay off any joint debts they may agree to, there may be other options in the asset and debt negotiations to give you the money you need to pay them off. It's wise to explore all your options and determine how to best protect yourself.
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