If you are planning on separating from your current spouse in the near future, you're undoubtedly worried about a variety of issues. Although you may feel somewhat overwhelmed at this time, it's essential that you keep in mind that one of the best things that you can do to ensure a happy and secure future is to take steps now to protect your credit rating. Unfortunately, many people end with ruined credit in the aftermath of divorce. Following are three ways divorcing spouses can circumvent that scenario.
Make Existing Payments on Time
It can be very easy in the time leading up to divorce to forget about making payments on credit card bills and loans or to otherwise behave in a financially unsound manner. Some people even feel that they are somehow getting back at their soon-to-be exes if they fail to make scheduled payments. Keep in mind that until your obligations are separated, your credit rating is still linked to that of your partner. If you are making payments from your own private account rather than from funds held in common, be sure to keep careful records in case you need them to establish primary ownership of certain items through the courts.
Get a Credit Card in Your Own Name
If you don't already have a major credit card in your own name, apply for one as soon as possible rather than waiting until your divorce is final. This is the first step in building your own credit history. Be sure to use this card judiciously and never fail to make each payment in full and on time. You should also establish a bank account in your own name at this time if you do not already have one.
Close Joint Accounts ASAP
Closing joint accounts and distributing the funds equitably should be done if at all possible. However, financial institutions require that all outstanding debt either be transferred to you or your spouse or paid in full before the account can be closed, and many institutions require that your spouse agree to close the account. Because this can be complicated, it's best that you obtain and follow the advice of an experienced family law attorney, such as Robert L. Flanagan, when dealing with the details of closing joint accounts.
Many people fail to realize that simply being issued an divorce decree does not absolve them from financial obligations incurred during the course of the marriage. It's best to get your financial affairs in order before your divorce is finalized in order to prevent any unexpected surprises.