Divorce can be unpleasant. There's the emotional sting of dealing with a failed relationship, the challenges of starting over as a single person, and of course, financial issues.
Often, money matters takes a backseat to the drama that unfolds during a divorce. If you're separating from your spouse (or plan to) you need to protect your finances, especially your credit standing.
Since joint accounts are held by you and your spouse together, both of you are equally responsible for the debt, no matter how it is distributed in the divorce. "If an account is left open, your ex can add more debt, make a late payment, miss a payment or default, and you will also be held responsible," says Bill Hardekopf, a credit expert and CEO of LowCards.com. "The creditor reports account activity to the credit bureau in both of your names. This affects the personal credit score for both individuals."
2 - Notify your creditors of the upcoming divorce.
After you close any joint accounts, send a certified letter notifying your credit card companies, banks and other lenders about your divorce.
"Ask them to provide a current account statement and tell them that you do not intend to be held liable for any debt accumulated after the date of the written letter," Hardekopf says. "Request that they put the account on inactive status so no new additional charges may be added, and stipulate that once the balance is paid in full, the account is to be closed completely."
If your spouse is an authorized user on any of your individual accounts, or you're an authorized user on spouse's accounts, each of you should remove the other from the accounts. This will reduce the risk of either party racking up new, unauthorized debts. Again, revoke the authorization on the account via certified mail.
3. Get monthly statements
Have statements for remaining joint accounts mailed to you each month so you can monitor that payments are being made promptly. Why not just print them? Your spouse may change the passwords.
4. Don't fight tooth and nail for the house
A lot of times in divorce, especially for women, they want to stay in the marital home because that's where they've raised the kids and they have emotional attachment to the home. Be sure you can really afford the home because it's often more of a liability than an asset.
5. Keep your address up to date
Submit a change of address card at the post office or update it online at usps.com. Don't miss a payment on a credit account because you forgot about the bill or your ex didn't let you know the mail was just sitting there in your former home.
6. Avoid revenge shopping
Sadly, some people going through divorce try to get back at a soon-to-be ex-spouse or a former mate by going on big shopping binges. It's almost always a bad move. Maintain your normal, current spending habits and not to let debt spin out of control. Even though it oftentimes would be considered a marital debt, a judge may order the spouse who wasted the money to assume that debt.