Divorce brings enough heartache into our lives. It splits families, causes financial distress, brings great stress into our lives. Not to mention the great pain and sorrow that we have to experience with that loss of relationship.
But now there is even another thing that is affected by divorce. Our credit scores. Not only is divorce a heartbreaking situation to have to go through. But you also have to deal with the stress that it places on your finances, and the effect that it will have on your credit.
Here are 5 ways to help prevent your credit from being ruined due to a divorce:
1. Update your address
The first thing you will want to do is to update your address. You don’t want to miss paying any bills simply because they were sent to the wrong address. So, if you have moved out of your home, make sure you notify the post office and your creditors immediately of your change of address.
2. Close joint bank accounts
The next step to protecting your credit after a divorce is to close any joint checking or savings accounts. Close these joint accounts, split the money according to your agreements, and then open up new accounts just in your name. This may not have a direct impact on your credit score, but it will help to ensure your finances stay separate moving forward.
3. Close joint lines of credit
Next up you will want to close any joint credit accounts. You will either want to close them completely, or see if your creditor will be willing to convert that account to an individual account just in your name. If you request it, your creditors are required to close joint accounts in case of a divorce. They aren’t required to convert the account to an individual account for you, so you may lose some lines of credit that you had. But either way, you will want to make sure that you don’t move forward with any credit accounts kept in both of your names.
4. Sell or refinance your home and/or cars
Unlike credit cards of other lines of credit, home or car loan lenders are by no means required to close out joint accounts for you. So these are going to be more complicated to deal with than your credit accounts. Either way, you will still want to do what you need to make sure that these loans are separated moving forward. You don’t want to be held accountable if your ex-spouse defaults on these loans. If this were to be the case, and you had allowed your name to stay on those loans, your credit would also be affected by their default.
So, it is a good idea to try to refinance the home or car(s) in your OR your spous’’s name (whoever is keeping the asset), taking off the name of the other spouse completely. If you are not able to do this, you may want to consider selling these home(s) or car(s) so that you don’t have to worry about the shared responsibility moving forward.
5. Establish new credit
Once you are divorced, you will want to start working to establish new credit, just in your name. This will help you to build a solid credit report and financial future for yourself. This will also help you to work to offset any negative impacts your divorce may have had on your credit. As stated above, see what lines of credit you can change into just your name, so you can work to continue building that positive credit history. Or, open up a new line of credit or two in your name to help build or rebuild your credit. If you find that your credit scores are lower than you think they should be, you may want to consider hiring a credit repair firm to help you get any inaccuracies cleared up.