Sep
28
2010

Separating your credit from your ex-spouse

Dear Experian,

I am separating from my husband and do not want his creditworthiness joined with me anymore. How do I separate my creditworthiness from his?

- SHU

 

Dear SHU,

The first thing you must understand as you go through the divorce process is that the divorce decree does not remove your responsibility for the debt. The divorce decree is only an agreement between you, your ex-spouse and the court. It does not alter the contracts you have with your creditors.

Here are a few tips to separate your credit histories completely:

  • Contact each creditor and ask that the contract be changed to remove you as a joint account holder or authorized user. The creditor may require that one of you qualify independently to take over the account, which may not be possible.
  • If you cannot pay off the accounts or be removed from them contractually, close them to further charges so that no new debt can be added and continue to make payments
  • If there is a chance you will have difficulty meeting the criteria for a new credit card on your own, try to keep at least one account open, and convert it to an individual account so that you can continue to use it and build a positive credit history.

It will probably be difficult, but work with your husband to ensure your joint debts continue to be paid on time through the divorce process. Many couples fall into the trap of trying to hurt their ex-husband or ex-wife by running up their credit debt and not making payments, thinking that the ex-spouse will be stuck with the bad debt when the divorce is final. What they later discover is that because the debt is joint, they have destroyed their own credit history as well.

It’s far better to keep your joint accounts current so you can make a clean split when the divorce is final.

Thanks for asking.

- The “Ask Experian” team

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