Among the many financial and emotional hardships that come along with divorce, worrying about your spouse damaging your credit should not be one of them. Although the courts can consider the intentional dissipation of marital assets when awarding marital property during a divorce, you want to make sure you still don’t remain on the hook for some of your former spouse’s poor financial decisions. In order to avoid this, be sure to freeze accounts, close accounts, and keep a close eye on your credit.
Close Accounts & Separate Expenses
First things first. If you and your former spouse have joint credit cards or accounts, you are going to want to rather close those accounts or you may want to consider removing your name from those accounts. If you and your spouse are amicable, you should discuss paying off the cards, and closing them together. Alternatively, you can transfer the debt from a joint card to a new individual card to keep things separate. However, if you decide to remove your name from a credit card account, be sure to keep track of any spending your spouse does from there on out, and make it known to your attorney that you are not responsible for that spending.
Freeze Your Credit
Secondly, you should look to freeze your credit. You are able to freeze your credit with the three main credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and Transunion). This will prevent your spouse or former spouse from opening a new account with your name on it. However, you should double check with creditors who you already have accounts with, because they may have less strict requirements, and not require an additional credit check to extend credit. It will be important to notify these institutions to protect yourself from becoming liable for any unwanted debts.
Monitor Your Credit Score and Report
Monitor your credit score. You can receive your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus for free, once a year. In addition, you can often request your credit score from your bank. You are going to want to monitor this. You are going to want to look for odd purchases, or potential accounts taken out in your name that you did not open. You also are going to want to see if more credit is being used than normal, or if there are unexplained drops in your credit score. If you notice any of these things, you should call your creditors, or the credit bureau to see what steps you can take to prevent any further debt. You do not want to end up on the hook for your former spouse’s spending sprees, their careless spending leading up to the divorce, or any extravagant purchases they might make during the divorce proceedings.
Keep Your Address Updated
The last thing you want are monthly statements to be missed, or new credit cards to be sent to the wrong address. If you are going though divorce, and you move out or are planning to move out, make sure that you update your address with your banking institutions, with the post office, and with any creditors. You want to make sure that you are getting your mail forwarded so that you do not miss out on any changes in your finances.
Avoid Revenge Spending
It can seem really unfair and spiteful when your spouse or former spouse goes on a spending spree during or preceding your divorce. It can often make people feel that if the other spouse is allowed to spend marital funds or make big purchases, then they should be able to as well. Do not let this mess with your mind. If the court sees that a spouse is intentionally spending excessive amounts of money leading up to the divorce, they will take that into consideration when awarding property in the marriage. Additionally, assets and liabilities acquired after the date of filing are often considered non-marital debt and will not affect the debt that is allocated to you following the divorce. Therefore, the best thing you can do is to continue to spend as normal, regardless of what the other side does.
Reach Out to an Attorney
If you are considering filing for divorce, or are in the middle of a divorce, and are concerned about how your spouse is excessively spending marital funds, or how they may dissipate your assets if you decided to file for divorce, we encourage you to reach out to our experienced team of family law attorneys to determine how we can help you better protect your assets in your divorce case.