When you’re going through a divorce, the emotional challenges can pale in comparison to the financial ones. While there are a lot of things you probably need to handle all at once, you want to make protecting your credit a major priority.
After all, you’re soon going to be navigating the world on one income, and good credit can make it easier to find a place to live, refinance some of your joint debts and obtain the things you need to start over. Here are ten essential ways to safeguard your credit during a divorce:
1. Establish credit in your own name
If you haven’t already, establish your individual credit history by opening a couple of financial accounts in your name alone. This can include credit cards, loans or even utility bills. This can help stabilize your credit and give you a cushion for the future. You may also want to consider having the bills sent to a post office box or someone else’s house, especially if you’re still sharing living space with your spouse. That can protect your financial privacy.
2. Close all the joint accounts
Start by closing any joint credit accounts you share with your spouse. This prevents further debt accumulation on shared accounts that would later have to be divided. If you can’t pay off the accounts, ask the credit card companies to lock the cards and the accounts so that nothing else can be added to your credit tally until after the divorce is settled.
3. Refinance all the joint debt
Once you and your spouse have decided how the marital debt is to be divided, it’s time to refinance. That may mean opening new credit cards and transferring your share of any joint balances into your own name, and having your spouse do the same. It may also mean refinancing cars and real estate. When you’re done, however, you should have no shared debts remaining.
4. Monitor your credit reports regularly
Regularly review your credit report from all major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian and Equifax). Look for any suspicious activity or unauthorized accounts – particularly if you don’t trust your spouse to play things straight. If you’re particularly concerned, you can ask each of the credit card reporting companies to “freeze” your credit so that no unauthorized requests slip by you.
Protecting your credit during a divorce requires diligence and careful financial planning. By following these essential steps and seeking legal guidance when needed, you can minimize the potential damage to your credit and pave the way for a more stable financial future post-divorce.
At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation at 646-665-3903 or by contacting us online.
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Mia Poppe, Esq.