Smart consumer tips and strategies from Eyewitness News Online
The emotional toll of divorce is hard enough without adding financial devastation to the mix. If you're on the verge of calling it quits or are in the process of getting a divorce right now, it's important to think about your credit. How is your spouse affecting your score? Do you have any plastic in your name? What kind of shape is your personal credit in? Putting time aside now to figure out these matters will help soften the financial blow, if your marriage comes to an end.
Protecting Your Credit
In your name
Make sure you have at least one credit card in your name alone, and are not just listed as an authorized user. That way, your spouse won't be able to cut you off without your permission.
If you're trying to get your first credit card and your spouse has a bad credit history, you still have an option. Most banks realize your ex's creditworthiness is not the same as yours. So, they'll often give you a credit card if you agree to keep an amount of money, generally $250 to $3,000, in a savings account.
Check writing privileges
Try to get cards with check writing capabilities. This will give you a source of emergency funds if your cash reserves run low or are frozen because of court proceedings during the divorce.
You may also want to open your own checking account, if you don't have one already, to show creditors you can handle money responsibly.
Close joint accounts
If you share accounts, you also share the debt no matter who's doing the buying. As long as these accounts are open, you're responsible for paying the bills and you risk damaging your financial reputation, even if you're divorced. You can protect yourself by closing all joint accounts and opening new ones in your own name.
If the divorce decree says you'll split the payments on those accounts, double check that it's being done. Otherwise, your credit report will reflect the negligence.
Contact the credit bureau
Contact a credit agency or your local credit bureau and find out about your credit history. Is the information accurate? You may learn that you don't even have a file, if you've never had credit in your name.
Credit information is crucial for getting future charge cards and loans. Here are some things you should consider while reviewing your credit:
>>Request the name and address of each business that supplied the information.
>>Ask for the names of everyone who's received a copy of your credit report during the last six months.
>>Review your credit report. If you find mistakes, you can get help fixing them from the credit bureau. You may be asked to supply extra information.
>>Keep a file on all telephone conversations and correspondence you've had regarding your report. Keep a log that includes the date, time, name of person you talked with, their title and notes on the conversation. If you send anything in writing, make sure you send copies and keep the originals.
Eastern Michigan University
You can order your credit information online, or contact one of the three major credit bureaus directly:
50% of all marriages end in divorce. 60% of all 2nd marriages split as well.
Women's Financial Network
Women generally recover well after a divorce. According to the National Center for Women and Retirement, 82% of women declared themselves stronger and more independent within three years after a divorce.
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