Divorce is the ending of many things: a romantic relationship, a familial unit, a collaboration of finances and shared responsibility for debts. An article by the financial website Bankrate discusses divorce debt and the importance of protecting your credit score throughout the process. According to the article, credit scores often fall dramatically after divorce. This is commonly due to an increase in expenses, which are no longer split between two incomes. But additional concerns arise when a divorce is particularly contentious. One spouse may take actions to purposely damage the financial well-being of the other spouse.
List Your Debts and Act Appropriately
According to the article, it is necessary to make a comprehensive list of all your debts and financial responsibilities. It’s important to take time when considering these obligations, ensuring that none are overlooked or forgotten. All accounts should be included, whether held individually or jointly. Even accounts where either spouse is the only authorized user are important to note.
Once all debts are identified, take the time to remove your spouse as a user on your open accounts. As stated in the report, if these accounts are not closed or altered appropriately, one spouse can end up with significant charges that were incurred after the separation. It is also important that you remove yourself as an authorized user on your spouse’s accounts. Some companies reportedly list debts on the credit report of an authorized user. If your spouse fails to keep up payments on the account, it may reflect negatively on your credit score.
Joint accounts can prove a bit more challenging. The article suggests that couples try to untangle the web of joint accounts prior to the divorce proceedings. Try to pay them off altogether or transfer account balances into one spouse’s name. Compromise is key to these negotiations. The person who keeps the new car takes over the auto loan, while the person keeping the house generally refinances the mortgage into his or her name alone. If you are unable to make these decisions prior to the divorce proceeding, the judge may end up making them for you.
Marital Division of Debt in Illinois
Illinois is classified as an equitable distribution state. This gives the court considerable discretion in determining how to best divide marital property, including debts. When making a decision, the judge can consider a variety of factors, including:
- Contributions of each spouse to the acquisition of assets/debts;
- Dissipation of marital and non-marital assets by either party;
- Length of marriage;
- The economic circumstances of each individual spouse;
- Financial obligations or ongoing rights from a prior marriage;
- Child custody determinations;
- Maintenance awarded to either spouse;
- The ability of each spouse to acquire future assets; and
- Tax consequences from the court award.
Protecting your credit following a divorce relies heavily on the actions you take during the separation and proceedings. Contact a divorce attorney at the Law Office of Elizabeth J. Chacko, P.C. today for a consultation. Serving clients in Naperville, Wheaton, and Downers Grove, our capable attorneys are available to assist with all of your divorce needs.