Separating Credit

If you are considering separation or divorce, you should take steps to protect your credit and prepare for your future independence as a credit customer. It makes sense to seek the advice of a professional during this time. During a separation or divorce, you should follow these steps.

Step 1: List all credit accounts
Note all loans and credit card accounts. Make sure you know the balances due and which accounts are held individually or jointly.

Step 2: Make your required payments
Keep up your payments during a separation or divorce, even if your spouse should be responsible. Late payments and other problems may become part of your credit history. Your future ability to obtain credit could be affected and cause problems when looking for a new apartment or home.

Step 3: Contact your creditors
Responsible lenders understand that personal lives can change. They will want to work with you and keep you as a valued customer.

Step 4: Untangle your marital credit
A creditor cannot close an account simply because a divorce is planned or granted. Although creditors are not required to convert a joint account to an individual account, you may ask your creditor to close a joint account or remove an authorized user from your individual account. The creditor may be willing to work with you and your spouse.

Step 5: Establish independent credit
Talk with your creditor about opening your own individual credit account. Your creditor will review your application based on your individual assets, income and credit history.

In the beginning, it may be more difficult to obtain credit. You may have a lower credit limit than you shared with your former spouse. Still, you will be on your way to establishing yourself as an independent and reliable credit customer.

Additional resources
For more information about divorce and credit, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides a number of publications about divorce and financial matters. Call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). You can also contact the FTC via the Internet at www.ftc.gov.