We’ve all heard the horror stories about the wife who took her husband to the cleaners in a divorce, the couple who filed Chapter 7 bankruptcy after their divorce, the husband who cut his wife off during the divorce and so on. Such stories understandably, make a lot of us fear the idea of getting a divorce due to potential financial ruin.
Divorce does NOT have to be financially devastating. As long as you’re educated on the divorce process, especially as it pertains to your finances and credit, the more you’ll be able to prevent the divorce from wiping you out financially. Education is key to making the right decisions so your assets and your credit are adequately protected during and after divorce.
Take This Advice to Heart
Usually, the reason why people’s credit score is affected by a divorce is because they didn’t know what they didn’t know. That said, here’s what you need to know and do to shield your FICO score from the effects of divorce:
- Close all joint accounts right away. If you have a joint account, you are both responsible for the debt equally, regardless of what it says in your divorce decree. For example, if you’re both on a credit card with $10,000 charged on it and your spouse agrees to pay it but doesn’t, you’ll be on the hook for the debt and all the associated penalties and interest. The non-payment will affect both of your credit scores.
- Once you have closed all joint accounts, we recommend sending the creditors a certified letter notifying them about the divorce. Ask the bank, lender or creditor for a current account statement and inform them that you will not be liable for any debt accumulated after the date of the letter. Ask the creditor to make the account inactive so your spouse cannot make any new purchases. Lastly, tell the creditor that once the account is paid off, you want it closed.
- If you have any accounts with outstanding balances, tell the creditors to send you monthly statements, this way you can stay 100% on top of the accounts. Do the same for all accounts that you cannot close because they’re carrying a balance. By doing this, you can keep track of the accounts and you’ll know right away if they aren’t being paid by your former spouse.
- Do not go on a spending binge or engage in revenge shopping. At the end of the day, you could be on the hook for the full amount if the judge believes you were spending recklessly.