When a marriage ends in divorce, the lives of those involved are changed forever. During this time of upheaval, one thing that shouldn’t have to change is the credit status you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Unfortunately, for many, the experience is the exact opposite. Unfulfilled promises to pay bills, the maxing out of credit cards, and a total breakdown in communication frequently lead to the annihilation of at least one spouse’s credit. Depending upon how finances are structured, it can sometimes have a negative impact on both parties.
The good news is it doesn’t have to be this way. By taking a proactive approach and creating a specific plan to maintain one’s credit status, anyone can ensure that “starting over” doesn’t have to mean rebuilding credit.
The first step for anyone going through a divorce is to obtain copies of your credit report from the 3 major agencies: Equifax, Experian®, and TransUnion®. It’s impossible to formulate a plan without having a complete understanding of the situation. (Once a year, you may obtain a free credit report by visiting www.AnnualCreditReport.com.)
Once you’ve gathered the facts, you can begin to address what’s most important. Create a spreadsheet, and list all of the accounts that are currently open. For each entry, fill in columns with the following information: creditor name, contact number, the account number, type of account (e.g. credit card, car loan, etc.), account status (e.g. current, past due), account balance, minimum monthly payment amount, and who is vested in the account (joint/individual/authorized signer).
Now that you have this information at your fingertips, it’s time to make a plan.
There are two types of credit accounts, and each is handled differently during a divorce. The first type is a secured account, meaning it’s attached to an asset. The most common secured
accounts are car loans and home mortgages. The second type is an unsecured account. These accounts are typically credit cards and charge cards, and they have no assets attached.
When it comes to a secured account, your best option is to sell the asset. This way the loan is paid off and your name is no longer attached. The next best option is to refinance the loan. In other words, one spouse buys out the other. This only works, however, if the purchasing spouse can qualify for a loan by themselves and can assume payments on their own. Your last option is to keep your name on the loan. This is the most risky option because if you’re not the one making the payment, your credit is truly vulnerable. If you decide to keep your name on the loan, make sure your name is also kept on the title. The worst case scenario is being stuck paying for something that you do not legally own.
In the case of a mortgage, enlisting the aid of a qualified mortgage professional is extremely important. This individual will review your existing home loan along with the equity you’ve built up and help you to determine the best course of action.
When it comes to unsecured accounts, you will need to act quickly. It’s important to know which spouse (if not both) is vested. If you are merely a signer on the account, have your name removed immediately. If you are the vested party and your spouse is a signer, have their name removed. Any joint accounts (both parties vested) that do not carry a balance should be closed immediately.
If there are jointly vested accounts which carry a balance, your best option is to have them frozen. This will ensure that no future charges can be made to the accounts. When an account is frozen, however, it is frozen for both parties. If you do not have any credit cards in your name, it is recommended you obtain one before freezing all of your jointly vested accounts. By having a card in your own name, you now have the option of transferring any joint balances into your account, guaranteeing they’ll get paid.
Ensuring payment on a debt which carries your name is paramount when it comes to preserving credit. Keep in mind that one 30-day late payment can drop your credit score as much as 75 points. It is also important to know that a divorce decree does not override any agreement you have with a creditor. So, regardless of which spouse is ordered to pay by the judge, not doing so will affect the credit score of both parties. The message here is to not only eliminate all joint accounts, but to do it quickly.
Divorce is difficult for everyone involved. By taking these steps, you can ensure that your credit remains intact.
If you have any questions about buying a Santa Maria home for sale in the Santa Maria Real Estate market or any properties on the Central Coastand need to get a loan in Santa Maria, CA or any where in the state of so I California not just on the Central Coast, so I can do California home loans, and first time home buyer loans, as well as refinance home loans and just plain simple mortgage loans. So please contact me by sending me an email at: GenePerez@GMSLoans.net
I do also service all the nearby communities and other markets such as the Santa Ynez real estate market, Nipomo Real estate market, Arroyo Grande real estate market, Grover Beach Real Estate Market, and all other surrounding areas regarding the homes on the Central Coast.
my goal is to provide you with resources you need. I can also help in getting the financing for your home. If you have any suggestions or questions in how I can provide more or better
information please let me know. I have been helping my clients for the last 15 years on the Central Coast, Gene Perez – 805-448-7101 , DRE 01321588
Important Disclaimer: Questions and answers provided on this website and by Gene Perez is to be considered general information, and is not intended to substitute for informed professional financial, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice.
This blog and its content is copyright of Gene Perez 2010. All rights reserved. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following: you may print or download to a local hard disk extracts for your personal and non-commercial use only. You may copy the content to individual third parties for their personal use, but only if you acknowledge Gene Perez as the source of the material You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system without obtaining Gene Perez’s
Other articles you might like;