Your post-divorce financial security depends on the decisions you make during the process. That's why it's important to have experienced legal, financial and tax guidance.
Too many people neglect to consider the impact of divorce on their credit score. Your ability to obtain credit will be more important than ever as you look for a new home or apartment, buy a new car or even begin a job search. That's why it's essential to protect it.
Separate Your Joint Accounts
You should begin taking steps to protect your credit as soon as you and/or your spouse begin considering divorce. If you have joint credit cards and bank accounts, which most couples do, your spouse can empty out the accounts and run up massive credit card debt.
Protect yourself by separating all of your joint accounts as quickly as possible. If your spouse has authorization to do any type of transactions on your individual accounts, remove that as well. Of course, you'll likely have joint bills to continue paying for a time. Therefore, work with your attorney to make arrangements with your spouse to continue payments on joint debt or determine who will pay for what.
Don't Fall Behind on Payments
When people go through a divorce, they too often forget things like paying bills -- particularly if their spouse was in charge of those things. Even if your spouse has said he or she will handle certain bills, like the mortgage, car loan payments or utilities, if your name is on the loan or account, ensure that the payments are continuing so that your credit isn't impacted by your spouse's negligence.
Don't Make Your Divorce More Complicated -- and Costly -- Than It Needs to Be
Minimize your legal fees if possible. You can save a lot of money and keep yourself out of debt by minimizing the time you have to spend with your attorney or in court. Pick and choose your battles rather than fighting over everything, no matter how angry you may be.
Couples who can work together amicably to divide their assets, determine spousal support and arrange a child custody and visitation plan often opt for a mediated or collaborative divorce. These options are less expensive than a litigated divorce and minimize the stress on everyone -- most importantly the children.
It's never too early to seek legal and financial advice. Even if you end up not going through with the divorce, separating some of your assets and debts from your spouse's and becoming more familiar with your financial picture can help protect you and your credit in the future.
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