AICCCA Advises Four Tips to Protect Your Credit in Divorce

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The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies advises consumers to do everything they can to protect their credit in a divorce.

Our counselors frequently see divorced persons who have a bad credit rating and are being contacted for payment because their ex-spouse did not pay a joint account that was assigned to them in the divorce decree. ~ David Jones, President, AICCCA

Nothing about going through a divorce is pleasant. Having your credit ruined as a result of an ex-spouse’s behavior can be horrible. The Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies advises consumers to do everything they can to protect their credit in a divorce.

“Our counselors frequently see divorced persons who have a bad credit rating and are being contacted for payment because their ex-spouse did not pay a joint account that was assigned to them in the divorce decree,” said David Jones, president, Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies.

To help protect your credit in a divorce AICCCA offers these four tips:

1. Transfer balances on joint credit card accounts to separate accounts. As part of the divorce agreement, have your attorney request that rather than assigning joint credit card accounts to one or the other spouse that the accounts be closed and the balances transferred to accounts in each spouse’s name. The amount transferred would be based on the amount for which each spouse is determined responsible.

2. Close joint accounts if not feasible to transfer to separate account. Either party can request that a joint account be closed. If you are not able to transfer the joint account balance to separate accounts for whatever reason, closing the account will prevent additional charges and liability on the account. It would be best to include this in the divorce agreement rather than closing the accounts without notifying your spouse.

3. Check your credit reports to assure joint accounts are being paid. Some joint accounts such as mortgages and car loans may not be appropriate or manageable to refinance in one spouse’s name. To assure that your credit is not damaged by non-payment on a joint account assigned in the divorce to your spouse, check your credit reports frequently. It may be worth purchasing a credit reporting monitoring service.

4. To protect your credit, you may have to make payments you were not assigned. Your divorce decree does not negate the contract that you signed with creditors for any joint accounts with your spouse. If the spouse assigned to the debt does not pay, your credit will suffer and the creditor will likely expect you to make payment. The spouse assigned the debt in the divorce will be in contempt of court for not paying, but your credit will still be negatively affected if the account is not paid.

Laws pertaining to divorce vary by state and in community property states debt issues may be handled differently. It is always a good idea to hire an attorney when filing for divorce.

AICCCA: Founded in 1993, Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies is a national membership organization established to promote quality and professional delivery of credit counseling services. AICCCA and its members are focused on financial education, efficient processes and advanced technology to best serve clients and creditors. AICCCA members are independent nonprofit agencies that advocate for debtors, annually counsel millions of consumers nationwide and provide debt management services to consumers with excessive unsecured debt. To contact an AICCCA member agency call (866) 703-TRUSTAICCCA (866-703-8787) or visit http://www.aiccca.org.

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Shari Bedker
AICCCA
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