Getting a divorce forces you to deal with new responsibilities. Suddenly, you need to consider dividing assets, figuring out support payments and living on a single income. While figuring all these things out, it is vital to take some steps to safeguard your finances, including your credit.
If you ignore your new financial obligations or fail to take joint credit and debt into consideration, your credit may take a significant hit because of the divorce. Here are some actions you can take to protect and rebuild your credit during and after your divorce.
1. Separate or close joint accounts
A divorce decree does not absolve you of joint marital debts. You still bear responsibility for joint credit cards, mortgages and car loans regardless of what the divorce papers say. This means a creditor may hold you liable if your ex fails to fulfill his or her obligations. This is why it is necessary to either transfer joint accounts to the responsible party or close them altogether. However, you may need to pay off existing balances.
2. Establish or rebuild independent credit
It is important for you to have your own strong credit history that is separate from your spouse. Open your own credit account, and pay every bill on time. Once you have a solid track record with one type of credit for at least six months, you can move onto new credit. Make sure you never accrue more debt than what you can truly afford.
3. Update your account information
Preventing others from accessing your financial accounts is always important, but it is especially important after a divorce. Even if you do not think your former spouse will try to access your accounts to get revenge, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
A divorce can be complicated and painful, but ultimately, it is an opportunity to make a fresh start, both emotionally and financially. These steps to protect your credit will help you rebuild your life.