Divorce can cause a great deal of financial upheaval for a family. However, the divorce itself does not have a direct impact on your credit score. The divorce decree does not add or remove points from your existing number, but the financial outcome after the divorce can still play a significant role in what happens to your score. Here is what can go wrong and how to prevent damage to your score:
Responsibility for Joint Debts
Creditors want their money. They do not care if you got a divorce, nor do they care whether a judge proclaimed that one spouse is responsible for the balance on the joint credit card. If your name is on the account as a co-signer, an authorized user, or a joint account holder, you are also financially liable for these debts. The divorce decision does not negate the existing agreement you have with the lender.
Your Credit Score Is on the Line
If you share an account in any way with your ex, old or new, you are also legally responsible for the balance on that account. If the judge gives the responsibility to your ex, and he or she fails to make a payment, the negative marker will end up on your credit score, no matter how far in the past your divorce occurred. Your credit score may also be affected if your ex or someone else with access to a credit card runs up the balance on the account. Negative consequences affect all credit scores associated with an account, yours included.
A general rule of thumb is to close any joint accounts before the divorce process begins. Unfortunately, in some situations, a vindictive spouse may sabotage their former partner’s credit score by making large purchases with no intention of paying the balance. Closing accounts or removing a spouse from an account can help avoid this situation.
Other preventative measures you can take include maintaining an amicable relationship with your spouse throughout the divorce and working together with your ex to pay down credit card balances and ultimately close the accounts entirely. You may be able to work with lenders to pay the amount in full or settle for a lower total. You can also communicate with lenders to convert a joint account into an individual account. No matter your decision, it is best to clear up any loose ends as soon as possible, so you can begin rebuilding your credit once your divorce is finalized.
A DuPage County Family Law Attorney Can Help
If you are considering divorce and are worried about how the process will impact your credit score, the Wheaton divorce lawyers at Andrew Cores Family Law Group can answer your questions and address your concerns. Our experienced attorneys will walk you through the divorce process and advise you of how to protect your finances and your credit. Call us today at 630-871-1002 to schedule your free initial consultation.