Handling separation, annulment and divorce is overwhelming enough without adding to the stress by trying to manage your credit profile at the same time. It is important, however, to ensure you take steps to protect your financial future and your identity starting as soon as possible.
Once you have divided your debts and assets and signed a Marital Settlement Agreement, it is still your responsibility to sever your financial relationship with credit companies for the accounts you agreed to leave to your ex-spouse. It is important to be sure all accounts have been closed and/or re-titled to accurately reflect the new ownership. This includes savings, checking, mortgages, mutual funds, insurance policies, etc. Once you have finished removing your name from accounts, it is time to start opening and establishing new financial and credit relationships for yourself instead of as part of a couple and, if necessary, with your new legal name.
Mortgages and other large loans might be more complicated to refinance so it could be easier if you and your ex-spouse work out a plan to pay off the accounts together. If remaining on accounts together, tread carefully as actions by either party will affect the credit of the other. If debt is a problem, consider a debt management program to aid in budget creating and setting a payment schedule that will work for you and get you in a better financial position.
Once you believe your accounts have been appropriately titled, take the time to get a copy of your credit report to make sure everything looks correct. It is also important to know that you are responsible for any joint accounts that end up in collections. Credit companies and other financial institutions are neither entitled to your divorce agreement nor are they concerned with who is morally responsible for the debt, only that they are paid. Make sure to verify any collections that are on your credit profile for debt incurred prior to being married. If your name was added to the account with or without your knowledge, you are not responsible for debt incurred prior to marriage. If there are any derogatory remarks remaining, you are entitled to dispute them with the credit bureau
Lastly, take necessary steps to protect your identity. Your ex-spouse has had access to vital private information that could potentially damage your credit and reputation. It is important that you stay vigilant during and after divorce with protecting your social security number, bank account and credit card numbers, even passwords you used to use by visiting the Identity Theft Legal Center.