How to protect a credit score while getting a divorce

A divorced person in Illinois may have the misconception that a divorce decree that mandates an ex-partner’s responsibility to pay off certain debts protects them from being affected by late or missed payments. However, even if a divorce decree assigns a few specific accounts to an ex-spouse, creditors might still deem both parties responsible for paying the balance, depending on the type of account.

Some people might try to protect their credit by opening an individual account, should a divorce ever be a factor in the future. However, based on what state the person lives in, they might discover that their ex-spouse is held equally liable for debt, which could directly impact their credit score.

People who shared a joint account with an ex-spouse might not realize that both parties are deemed responsible for any balances owed. This could cause an ex-partner’s inactivity on the account to directly affect the other partner’s credit. It might be possible for a creditor to convert a joint account into an individual account. It is unlawful for a creditor to make this conversion because of a change in the account holder’s marital status, but it may be lawful if either spouse requests that the change be made. However, a creditor is not required to change the account type.

The different variations of how an ex-spouse can negatively affect a person’s credit make the matter complicated, especially since different states have different laws in place about how credit and divorce interlink. Since the process of trying to maintain good credit while divorcing or separating can involve many different aspects, a divorce lawyer might be useful in providing a person with information about how to address property division issues and maintain good credit in the divorce process.

Source: FindLaw, “Credit and Divorce,” Accessed Feb. 4, 2015