Can divorce ruin your credit score? This is a common question that many people have when they are going through a divorce or considering one. The answer is not so simple, because divorce itself does not directly affect your credit score, but it can have indirect effects on your financial situation and obligations that may impact your credit score. How you pay your bills during a divorce determines if the divorce affects your credit rating. In many divorces, especially contested divorces, credit scores are a casualty of a divorce.
According to Experian, one of the major credit bureaus, divorce proceedings do not affect your credit report or credit scores directly. Your credit report does not state whether you are married, single or divorced, so changing your marital status has no impact on your credit. However, how you handle any joint accounts with your former spouse can have an effect on both your credit report and theirs.
Joint accounts are accounts that you opened with your spouse during the marriage, such as credit cards, mortgages, car loans or personal loans. As long as the account remains open with both of your names on it, you are both legally responsible for it, regardless of what other agreements may say. This means that if your spouse misses a payment or runs up a high balance on a joint account, it can negatively affect your credit score as well as theirs.
A divorce decree usually specifies who will pay each debt. However, a divorce decree does not break contracts with lenders and creditors. If the spouse responsible under the divorce decree is unable or unwilling to pay and the contract has not been changed by the lender, the late payments still will appear on both credit reports and will have a negative impact on credit scores for both individuals.
Therefore, it is important to deal with joint accounts prior to the divorce or as soon as possible after the divorce. You can do this by closing the account completely or otherwise ensuring your name or your ex-partner’s is totally removed from the account. You can also contact your lenders and creditors and ask them to change the account status to individual or transfer the balance to a new account in your name only.
Divorce can also affect your credit score indirectly by changing your income and expenses. For example, if you have to pay alimony or child support, or if you lose access to your spouse’s income, you may have less money available to pay your bills and debts. On the other hand, if you receive alimony or child support, or if you gain access to assets from the divorce settlement, you may have more money available to pay your bills and debts.
To protect your credit score during and after a divorce, you should:
– Monitor your credit report regularly and dispute any errors or unauthorized accounts.
– Pay all your bills on time and keep your balances low on your credit cards.
– Maintain a budget and track your income and expenses.
– Seek professional help if you need legal advice, financial counseling or emotional support.
Divorce can be a challenging life event that can have lasting effects on your financial health. However, by being proactive and responsible with your finances, you can minimize the impact of divorce on your credit score and rebuild your credit over time.