Many people believe getting divorced automatically hurts your credit, but that is not true. The act of getting divorced itself won’t damage your credit because federal law states your marital status cannot affect your creditworthiness. Morgan Quinn of GOBankingRates.com offers some examples of how divorce can negatively affect your credit score:
Your ex files
Even if your divorce decree says your ex-spouse is responsible for paying any joint debt, the lenders may still come after you if your ex declares bankruptcy. You can try to fight this issue in family court, or it might be time to file for bankruptcy to remove yourself from the debt.
Your ex still has access to your accounts
An angry ex-spouse can rack up debt on joint credit cards, drain joint bank accounts and leave you broke. If your ex (or anyone else) is an authorized user on any of your credit cards, you are the one responsible for any debt incurred. The best thing to do is change all your banking passwords and remove your ex’s name from all your accounts.
You have high legal bills
Getting divorced isn’t cheap. A study from NOLO.com found the total bill for divorce legal fees ran from $1,000 to $30,000. If you rack up attorney’s fees, you may have a hard time paying off both those fees and your own bills. To avoid this, slash your expenses or increase your income with a second job or side work until you can pay off the divorce costs.
Your ex doesn’t pay your joint bills
Lenders care only about whose names are on the accounts. Your ex may have the house, but if the mortgage is in both names your credit is going to take a big hit if payments are late. This is why many divorcing couples decide to close or refinance joint debt to get one person’s name off loans. This also goes for service accounts like phone bills and cable.
Your ex steals your identity
A disgruntled ex-spouse has access to all your personal information including your Social Security number, birth date and mother’s maiden name. It’s all too easy for your ex to steal your identity. Protect yourself by signing up for a credit monitoring service that will alert you to any new accounts opened in your name or changes to your credit history.