If divorce is on your horizon, it’ll be one of the biggest financial transactions of your life. When dealing with finances during a divorce, you will be dealing with everything from bank accounts, retirement accounts, credit cards, businesses, properties, cars, college funds, assets, to jewelry even. Protecting your credit through the divorce process is going to be vital if you want a positive start to your new beginning.
The first thing you are going to want to look at is your property and other shared assets. For example, if you own a home with your soon to be ex-spouse, you likely have a mortgage on that home. You are NOT going to want to have one person retaining the asset while both parties stay on the mortgage. If you do this, you will not have any protection, especially if you’re the one that is not supposed to be making the payments. Oftentimes people will put language into a divorce agreement that states one person’s responsibility for the payments. If that person doesn’t make the payments, the other person could be indemnified. What a lot of people don’t realize is that the bank, the mortgage company, or the entity that holds the mortgage, does not know about the divorce you are going through or went through. They do not know about the language in the agreement. They will still hold both parties accountable.
If both people stay on the mortgage, the bank can and will go after both of you despite the language that might be in your divorce agreement. You will then have to go back to divorce court, file a motion for contempt or a motion to enforce, wait for the hearing, and the judge’s decision based on the language of the agreement. Meanwhile, fees are incurring because nobody is making payments. This will most definitely affect your credit in a negative way. The best way to go about handling properties and assets during a divorce is for the person who is retaining the house to refinance the mortgage in his or her own name. This will be the best way to protect your credit to avoid the above situation happening.
The next important thing to do to protect your credit is to make sure all joint credit cards and loans are paid off and closed. You are not going to want your name to stay on a joint credit line at all. Yes, you may get dinged a little bit if you close an account; however, this ding will be way better than leaving yourself responsible. Even if you pay off all credit cards and loans and leave the accounts open, you are still leaving open the possibility of the other person racking up charges and having you held responsible.
You are going to want to do the above for any kind of payments or loans that might exist between you and your soon to be ex-spouse. Make sure you are refinancing whenever and wherever there is a joint asset.
Once you have done all of the above, you are going to want to make sure you check your credit on a regular basis during the divorce and after the divorce is finalized. Your divorce does not show up on credit statements. Creditors do not know that you are getting a divorce or that you have been divorced; they only know what kinds of loans and accounts your name might be on. Remember that your ex-spouse has very important personal information about you such as your social security number, your birthday, your mother’s maiden name, etc. If you are with someone that might take advantage of you following your divorce, checking your credit regularly to make sure there’s no suspicious activity is going to be vital. Definitely do this regularly for the first year following the finalization of your divorce and then every 6 months to year thereafter.