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Protecting your credit score during divorce

If you're going through a divorce, you understand that there are many financial details to worry about: Will you be able to retire? Should you keep the house? What about spousal support?

What you may not have considered, however, is how divorce could affect your credit score. Credit is essential to many of the big things we want and need in life, which is why it is important to protect your credit score if at all possible. During divorce, a good credit score could be damaged or destroyed by neglect or by a vindictive spouse.

Don't forget to keep paying the bills

During divorce, your whole world may seem upside down. It is such a departure from your normal routine that you could forget to do important things like paying bills or making loan payments. It may also be the case that you and your spouse haven't discussed who should be responsible for paying jointly held bills during this time, which could result in neither of you making payments.

Regardless of the reason, failing to make monthly payments could result in negative reports from creditors and lenders, damaging your credit score. To avoid this, please discuss an interim payment plan with your spouse. If necessary, this communication can be managed through your attorney.

Beware the vindictive spouse

The following scenario may sound far-fetched, but it is sadly common. During a particularly contentious divorce, one spouse decides to get back at the other by running up huge amounts of debt on joint credit accounts. He or she may also empty out a joint bank account and spend the money selfishly. This usually ends up hurting both spouses financially.

If you believe that this could be an issue in your own divorce, it is wise to begin severing financial ties as soon as possible. Close joint accounts and apply for accounts in your name only. If you can have your name (or your spouse's name) removed from a loan or mortgage, it is wise to do so. You can begin to implement some of these changes before you even file for divorce (opening accounts in your name only, for instance).

Getting divorced is not easy, and it sometimes brings out the worst in people. In order to protect yourself, your finances and your credit score, please take appropriate precautions like the ones mentioned above.

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