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Credit after divorce

It's important to remember that credit grantors have different policies when it comes to divorced couples and joint accounts. Be sure to contact each of your creditors individually to discuss whether you or your ex-spouse will have ongoing liability for the accounts.

Also, ask them how to transfer your joint debt to the name of the person who will be responsible (usually, this means signing an agreement with the credit grantor to release one of you from liability). The creditors may not agree right away. In fact, they have every right to defer a decision until you prove you can handle the payments alone. Nevertheless, this is a smart step to take to protect you from new liability and start reestablishing credit as an individual.

If your spouse runs up large amounts of debt, close whatever accounts you have to prevent future charges as soon as possible. Then inform all creditors, in writing, that you are not responsible for these debts after a certain date. Be sure to keep a copy for your records, and consider sending the original letter via certified mail. While this may not prevent creditors from trying to collect, it does show that you at least attempted to act responsibly. Remember, even if your name is taken off an account, and even if the account is closed to prevent future charges, you might still have legal responsibility to pay existing balances. While this may seem unfair since it was your ex who did the spending, it's perfectly legal. That's why it's important to close your joint accounts as soon as you can.

If you have a good credit history, open new accounts in your individual name. If your joint accounts have balances, obtain individual consolidation loans. Use the individual loans to pay off your joint accounts, then close the joint accounts. You'll each be solely responsible for paying off your individual loans - and you'll be safe from having your ex negatively affecting your credit.

This article is provided for general guidance and information. It is not intended as, nor should it be construed to be, legal, financial or other professional advice. Please consult with your attorney or financial advisor to discuss any legal or financial issues involved with credit decisions.
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