In the midst of a stressful divorce, one's credit score will often be the furthest thing from a spouse's mind. It's not uncommon for people's credit scores to take a big hit when they divorce.
This usually happens because: 1) income drops and expenses increase, 2) one spouse fails to pay the debt on a joint account, and 3) one spouse "borrows" the other's personal information to get new credit cards, utility services etc.
Why Divorce Often Leads to Bankruptcy
Some people are pushed into bankruptcy because a spouse doesn't pay a joint debt such as the mortgage. If one spouses files for bankruptcy, the other may be forced to do so as well in order to discharge the debts they can't afford to pay – debts the other spouse was "supposed" to pay.
Make Your Credit a Priority During Divorce
Divorce is stressful, and there are so many details to take care of. If a bill slips through the cracks, or if your spouse doesn't pay a joint credit card, a late payment can send your perfect credit score into a nosedive. When divorcing, you must make sure that all of your bills get paid on time.
We recommend that you:
- Get a copy of your credit report so you know which bills you are responsible for.
- If you're an authorized user on a credit card, you may want to get yourself removed from that account if you're worried that your spouse won't pay it on time.
- If your spouse is vindictive, you may want to put a fraud alert on your credit report.
- You may want to freeze your credit so that no one else can access your credit information without a PIN number from you.
Don't forget that by law, you are legally responsible for paying any joint debt that isn't paid off. A divorce decree does not change that.