What Happens to Your Debt When You Get Divorced?

Guest Post by Debt.org

Divorce can be a harrowing ordeal, and the state of your debts may not be a top priority during this time. But sorting out your debts now can save you from a lot of grief in years to come and can prevent certain negative information from appearing on your credit report. Otherwise, your ex-husband’s debt can still affect your credit standing down the road, potentially disqualifying you for lower interest rates or stopping you from opening new lines of credit altogether.

Divorce itself won’t harm your credit standing, but it’s easy to fall behind on bills during this time. Be sure to keep up with bill payments to avoid harming your credit standing. And take action now to separate accounts so as to ensure that your credit standing is safeguarded from your ex’s activity.

To separate your accounts, first request copies of your credit reports. You’re eligible to receive a free copy of each of your three credit reports once every 12 months. The report will list all your debts, ensuring that you don’t overlook any during your divorce proceedings. If you find anything that doesn’t seem right — such as a line of credit you don’t remember opening — don’t tell your future ex-spouse. Instead, just discuss the inconsistencies with your lawyer.

Once you’ve made sure you’re aware of every account with your name on it, you can then begin separating your accounts. Ideally, you should no longer have any joint accounts, accounts with both your name and your ex-husband’s name. This includes revolving accounts like credit cards as well as long-term loans like mortgages and auto loans.

After you’ve each discussed with your lawyers which debts you’re willing to take on individually, contact lenders directly. Ask that either your name or his name be removed from each account. Not every lender will agree to do this, so be prepared with a back-up plan. Ask if you can close the joint account and open a new, individual account to replace it.

In the case of credit cards, your best option is to pay off any outstanding balance and close the account. If you are unable to pay the balance in full, ask the creditor to freeze your account so that no further charges can be made. This is an important step because your husband may know your account number and security code, enabling him to continue using it for online purchases.

Remember that freezing the account will prevent you from using the card as well. If it’s possible, open a new line of credit to replace any old ones that you can no longer use.

Going through a divorce can be difficult emotionally and financially. But working out your finances now is the best option long-term.

Bio: America’s Debt Help Organization at Debt.org is a company that helps people become more knowledgeable about their financial well-being. For All Your Debt Settlement and Debt Consolidation Needs.