Preventing credit issues after divorce

When couples in Pennsylvania divorce, finances are typically a primary area of concern. This is particularly true if a couple has joint debt in the form of loans, mortgages and credit card accounts. Therefore, it is crucial that debt and credit related issues be addressed during the divorce process.

Each spouse has his or her own credit history and score. Debts taken out by one spouse in his or her name only appear only in his or her credit history. However, many couples have joint debt, which can be reported on both credit histories.

Once the marriage ends, spouses should order copies of their credit reports from all three major credit bureaus. This allows a spouse to challenge any errors and to be aware of just what liabilities he or she is responsible for.

The spouse should then monitor the credit reports on a monthly basis. This will provide an alert if the other spouse opens a new joint account. In addition, if the ex has committed to paying a joint debt, the credit report will show whether that spouse is meeting those obligations. If the ex is not making payments, the credit of both spouses may be damaged. Knowing about late payments can allow a spouse to contact a creditor and make arrangements for timely payment.

When possible, spouses should close joint accounts and sign up for banking and credit accounts separately. However, if there is significant debt that must be paid before a joint account can be closed, spouses may benefit from speaking with family law attorneys. In some cases, it may be possible to divide this debt equitably in a divorce settlement, thus preventing one spouse from having to pay more than he or she is required to by law.

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