Going through a divorce can be draining mentally, emotionally and physically. Unfortunately, in some cases it can also be draining financially as well. In a survey conducted by Experian, 54 percent of women who were divorced say that their credit score declined during their marriage. In many cases, the law can’t help you protect your credit through a divorce. Ultimately, it’s up to you to take the necessary steps to protect yourself from financial ruin. According to a San Diego divorce lawyer, “…in divorce and separation cases, both parties must complete financial disclosures.” Here are 4 ways to protect your credit during and after your divorce.
- Close or Untangle Joint Accounts: For the most part, a divorce decree doesn’t automatically get you out of a joint credit card. The only way to remove yourself or your soon-to-be ex-spouse from a joint account is directly through the lender. It’s important to close or separate these accounts before the divorce process begins. If that’s not possible, divide the responsibilities of the debt accordingly.
- Keep an Eye on Joint Accounts: If you’re unable to close or separate a joint account, it’s important to pay close attention to your accounts, especially if it’s a tense divorce. Reach out to the lender to get a digital or physical copy of the joint accounts statement each month. Another way to make sure all accounts are being paid on time is to get free credit reports from a different reporting agency every four months.
- Open Your Own Checking Account: In some cases, divorce can bring out the worst in people. If there’s a chance your spouse might do something to ruin your credit or finances, keep yourself covered and open a new checking account that is solely in your name. Set up automatic payments for the bills or credit card payments you are responsible for to avoid any crossed wires in communication or late-payment fees if the joint account is closed unexpectedly.
- Change Your Passwords and Update Contact Information: When going through a divorce, it’s important to make sure that your soon-to-be ex-spouse cannot access your personal and financial information. Update your billing address, change your PINs and passwords. See if your bank has an alert system to notify you of out-of-the-ordinary or large purchases to prevent overspending or suspicious activity.
Moving on with your life involves more than just opening your heart again and adapting a new mindset. It also involves protecting your finances now and in the future. Take the necessary steps before, during and after divorce to keep your credit intact and have peace of mind.