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Divorce Decrees, Joint Accounts, and Your Credit Report

Dear Experian,

I am legally divorced. My ex-husband re-married. We had a joint mortgage account. I have a divorce decree stating I am not liable for this account anymore, but this account is on my credit report. What do I do to get this account out of my credit report?

– JLH

Dear JLH,

A very common misperception is that divorce decrees legally remove your responsibility for a debt. In fact, they do not.

A divorce decree does not alter or override contracts with your creditors. The divorce decree is only an agreement between you, your ex-spouse and the court.

In order for you to be removed as the joint mortgage holder, your ex-spouse will need to refinance the mortgage in his name only. In some cases, the spouse who assumes responsibility for making payments under the divorce decree is unable to qualify for the mortgage on his or her own. Since your ex-spouse is now remarried, qualifying for a new loan with his current wife may be an option.

If refinancing is not possible, you should still speak to the mortgage company and notify of them of the divorce decree agreement. Doing so will not obligate the lender to stop reporting the account on your credit report, but making them aware of the divorce cannot hurt. Technically, as long as you are a joint account holder or co-signer on the account, you are equally responsible for the debt and it can continue to appear in your credit report.

Thanks for asking.
The “Ask Experian” team

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