It is not the fact of a divorce itself that can hurt your credit; marital status is not included in a credit report nor is it used to factor your credit score. It’s when a divorce causes financial problems like late or missed payments that your credit can be damaged.
Keeping your debt down and your payments current are the two vital keys to keeping your credit score from being seriously dinged after divorce. Here are some tips on how to keep your credit in good standing:
Match your lifestyle to your income. Adjusting to life on one income instead of two may require some major changes. You may have to move to a less expensive home or rent an apartment. You may need to cook more at home and eat out less often. You may need to trade in that expensive luxury vehicle and get one that is less expensive to maintain.
Budget. Create a budget so you know what you can and cannot afford. Prioritize expenses by order of importance and be sure you stay current on paying bills and loans since those have the greatest impact on your credit score.
Sever financial ties to your ex. If you are able to pay off your joint debts before your divorce is finalized, do it. You don’t want any lingering financial ties to your ex.
Live on your own income. If at all possible, try to live on your income alone, minus child support or alimony. If your ex loses his or her job or fails to make support payments, this could put you in financial jeopardy.
Remove your ex as an authorized user on any credit cards. You want to avoid having your ex run up the balances on any cards that you are responsible for paying.
Track payments. If your divorce agreement has specified that your ex is responsible for paying off joint debts, you need to ensure those payments are being made. Setting up credit monitoring is not enough since alerts are only sent once a late notice has been added to your credit report. You should keep track of all due dates and check that the payment has been made. If your ex is consistently late in making payments, you may need to pay the minimum yourself to protect your own credit score and then ask the court to order your ex to reimburse you.
Your legal team at Koenig|Dunne is experienced with credit card division and debt during a divorce, and we are here to help you navigate through this stressful and sometimes complicated aspect of divorce.