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Protecting your credit during divorce

Divorce is often a frustrating and hurtful process, but without proper preparation it can also be financially devastating. Too often, those going through a divorce fail to properly maintain their financial lives and find themselves re-entering the single life with their personal credit in shambles. If you are currently divorcing, or even considering divorce, take steps to preserve your personal credit.

Often, married couples share some personal debt. You can take stock of your debt load by ordering your personal credit reports. By carefully reviewing your credit reports, you can identify which debts you may be holding jointly with your spouse, as well as any debts that you may not have been aware were jointly held. In some cases, a spouse may have added your name to an account without your knowledge. Any debt obligations that your spouse can affect should be dealt with first and foremost. A credit monitoring service can help you stay aware of any activity that may negatively effect your credit.

If you have any joint accounts, you should close them if at all possible. When closing an account, make sure to express clearly that you will not be responsible for any charges following the day that you call. You should follow this up with a written letter to the creditor documenting the closure and requesting that the closure be reported to credit bureaus. If, for some reason, an account cannot be closed, take action to see that it is frozen so that no further charges can be made. For any accounts that remain active, it is vital to stay current with your payments. Allowing your accounts to become delinquent can seriously affect your credit score and make it difficult to get financing as you re-enter unmarried life.

You may also have joint bank accounts to manage. These are considered a marital asset, and may be subject to asset division by a court. To keep things simple, you can close the account and give your spouse half of the proceeds — otherwise, you may be forced to repay some of those funds in your settlement agreement. If you have any questions about how to proceed, an experienced property division lawyer can help ensure that you avoid any potential pitfalls while protecting your rights.

Source: womansdivorce.com, "Protecting Your Credit During Divorce," Tracy Achen, accessed Aug. 30, 2016

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