Divorce and Your Credit Score: Protecting Your Financial Health

Divorce and Your Credit Score: Protecting Your Financial Health

Divorce often goes beyond the emotional realm. Financial stability can be one of the casualties of this life-altering event. We’re exploring the impact of divorce on credit scores and provide valuable tips to help you safeguard your financial health during this tumultuous time.

Divorce and Credit Scores: A Complex Relationship

Your credit score is a reflection of your financial history, and unfortunately, divorce can complicate this picture. Here’s how:

  • Joint Accounts: If you and your spouse shared credit accounts, the way you manage them during and after divorce can affect your credit scores. Late payments or accumulating debt on joint accounts can harm both parties’ scores.
  • Separation of Finances: Divorce often involves untangling financial ties. Closing joint accounts, refinancing loans, or negotiating the division of debt can impact your credit, especially if it’s not handled carefully.
  • Alimony and Child Support: While these payments aren’t typically reported to credit bureaus, if you fall behind on them, it can indirectly affect your credit score if it results in financial strain.

Tips to Protect Your Credit Score During Divorce

  • Monitor Your Credit: Regularly check your credit reports from all three major credit bureaus. Look for any discrepancies or accounts that are still linked to your ex-spouse. Address inaccuracies promptly.
  • Close Joint Accounts: If possible, close joint credit accounts to prevent any future financial entanglement. Consider transferring the balance or refinancing individually.
  • Divide Debt Responsibly: Work with your ex-spouse to fairly divide any joint debts. This may involve paying off joint debts and then closing the accounts.
  • Establish New Credit: In the wake of divorce, it may be necessary to establish new credit in your name alone. This can be done by applying for a new credit card or loan.
  • Budget and Prioritize: Create a post-divorce budget that reflects your new financial situation. Prioritize essential expenses, and ensure you can meet your financial obligations, including alimony and child support.
  • Communicate with Creditors: If you anticipate difficulty meeting financial obligations due to the divorce, communicate with creditors and explore potential solutions before missed payments damage your credit.

Divorce Financial Analyst Scott Levin Shares Real World Experiences

In my work as a divorce mediation attorney and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, the topic of credit comes up often when a couple will maintain a joint liability after divorce. For example, if the settlement agreement calls for a joint mortgage to remain after divorce, or if a student loan liability secured by the parents on behalf of a child remains unchanged and tied jointly, the question posed is what happens if one party fails to fulfill on the agreement to make payments on time. This is certainly a genuine concern. For as long as a joint liability remains, if a payment is missed or late, that will affect the credit scores of both parties on that liability.

One way that my clients really benefit from working with our firm and the experience we have is on this topic. I have written hundreds of settlement agreements with language crafted from my brain and agreed to by the parties that offer protection for these examples involving joint liabilities after divorce. Protections can absolutely be put into place that enable both the continuation of a liability into the future and protections that prevent harm to credit scores in the event of any failure to pay in the future. Both can be achieved but it does require a degree of trust in each other. Absent that trust, it is generally a smarter way to proceed to eliminate any debt tied to both parties during the divorce process.  I encourage you to contact me or leave your thoughts in the post below. These articles will hopefully become more of a two-way conversation in 2024 and beyond and I hope to hear from you.

Prioritize Your Credit and Financial Health During Divorce

Divorce is undoubtedly a challenging chapter in life, but protecting your financial health is crucial. Your credit score plays a vital role in your financial future, affecting your ability to secure loans, buy a home, or even get a credit card. By staying informed, taking proactive steps, and managing your finances responsibly, you can emerge from divorce with your credit score intact and your financial stability safeguarded. Remember, seeking professional advice from a financial advisor or attorney can be a valuable resource during this time of transition.

Scott Levin divorce mediation lawyer in his San Diego California office

Begin the low-stress process with 5-Star rated Divorce Mediation Expert, Scott F. Levin, Esq, at San Diego Divorce Mediation. You’ll have access to flexible options, including virtual meetings. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation and see the difference mediation can make. By choosing mediation, you can save time, money, and emotional stress, while maintaining control over the outcome of your divorce.