If you're going through a divorce, you've likely heard some horror stories from friends, family and colleagues about how it can damage your credit. Indeed it can. However, with some smart decisions prior to and during your divorce, in consultation with your family law attorney, it doesn't have to.
One aspect of divorce (and marriage, for that matter) that can damage a person's credit is having it linked with someone else's. Most married couples have joint credit cards and loans -- the largest of which is usually the mortgage.
Separate Your Debt from Your Spouse's
Many family law attorneys recommend that you remove your name from joint accounts as soon as you begin contemplating divorce or believe that your spouse is. If he or she runs up a large debt and then can't or won't pay it, your credit score will suffer if you're on the account.
Another reason that some people's credit suffers in divorce (particularly older women's) is that they haven't had credit in their own name in a long time, or ever. Like having poor credit because of a spouse, having no credit history on your own can make it difficult to buy a car, get a credit card or even rent an apartment after you're on your own.
Check (and Recheck) Your Credit Score
If you don't know what your credit score is before the divorce proceedings begin, find out. Then keep close track of it during and after the divorce. Do your best to build up some credit in your own name without taking on unnecessary loans or debt that you may not be able to pay back.
Your family law attorney can help you work out a plan with your spouse to deal with your shared debt, whether it's a mortgage, car loan, student debt that you've consolidated, medical and/or credit card debt. It may be wise to bring in a financial advisor to help you as well. This is the time when you'll need a strong credit score more than ever.
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