How to keep divorce from ruining your credit
- Close joint accounts. If you have the opportunity, close all joint credit accounts before you separate. Closing them before separation or divorce proceedings will keep an angry spouse from using the account and running up charges that you may later be held responsible for.
- Get separate or individual accounts. Turning all credit cards, gas cards and retail accounts into individual accounts. This will prevent you from having to re-establish credit in your own name after the divorce because you will already have it.
- Settle with creditors. Ask your creditors to let you close the accounts by paying a smaller amount than is owed. If your creditors allow this, get a letter from the creditor that the account has been paid in full and a written promise that they will not file anything derogatory about the account to the credit reporting agencies.
- Freeze accounts. If you are unable to pay off your account or come to a settlement agreement regarding the balance owed, freeze the account. You will be unable to use the frozen account, but it will protect you in the long run. It is important to freeze the account because once the divorce is final, the balance owed on the account can be transferred to the party the court holds responsible for the debt. If the responsible party does not pay the debt, you don’t have to worry about it affecting your credit score.
- Contact your creditors. Tell them that you are getting a divorce. If there is a change of address, let them know.
- Make sure all bills are being paid. Divorce proceedings can take months and all it takes is one late payment to hurt your credit. Pay the minimum amount due to make sure your credit will not be tarnished.