Emotions run high during a divorce. Most Minnesota couples are focused on dividing assets and ironing out the details of child custody and alimony. However, during the midst of all of this, there is one thing that should not be neglected: one’s credit score. Unfortunately, many people with once-perfect credit fail to monitor their credit card accounts – particularly, the joint ones. They are under the assumption that the other spouse will continue paying them. Nevertheless, even if the divorce decree orders one party to pay the cards, he or she could neglect to do so — negatively affecting both parties’ credit in the process. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this from happening to you.
If you have an individual account, it should be fairly easy to maintain, since you receive the statements and you alone are responsible for paying the minimum payment every month. Nobody can negatively affect your credit, and nobody else can legally use your credit card unless you designated your spouse as an authorized user. If this is the case, you should contact your credit company immediately, and ask to have him or her taken off the account. Accordingly, you do not end up having to pay for an unauthorized spending spree.
If you have a joint account, this is where things can get hairy. Both of you are responsible for the debt, so any late payments go on your credit report and affect your score. Even if your ex-spouse swears he or she will make the payments, you may need to step up and make these payments yourself to keep the accounts in good standing. You may want to set up online access, so you can easily view the status of the accounts and make payments, if necessary.
In some cases, you can work things out with the credit card company, so that the account can be closed or changed to an individual account. But, understand that credit card companies do not abide by the divorce decree. They go by who is listed on the account, regardless of marital status.
Source: FindLaw.com, “Credit and Divorce,” accessed on June 13, 2015