Credit.com: What a divorce can do to your credit

As nearly half of the American population already knows, divorce is a difficult, emotional process to go through. This difficulty can be compounded depending on the number of years a couple has been together, the dollar amount of their acquired assets, and whether or not they have any children.

Divorce can also have an impact on your credit, though the proceedings themselves are not the reason for this. In other words, couples shouldn’t expect their credit scores to plummet the second they file for divorce. However, there are things that occur during divorce that can have a negative impact on credit. Here are 10 ways in which a divorce could affect your credit score:

Having to refinance your home

To move a property into one person’s name, it may be necessary to refinance your mortgage. As with any refinance situation, this will require a hard credit inquiry, and may also potentially add a great deal of new debt for one person.

Read: 8 tips for refinancing as mortgage rates rise

The splitting of the debt was uneven

When assets are divided, one person may get to take more of the income, property, or assets, but also more of the debt. It all just depends on how the debt is divided.

Going from two incomes to one

If possible, it’s helpful to examine finances before a divorce and determine new budgets for both parties, so as to avoid falling behind on any bills or payments. Many divorced individuals report that losing another person’s income made the single greatest impact on them financially. Setting up a new budget early on can help avoid this issue.

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Not disclosing all debt during the proceedings

At some point during the divorce process, both parties are required to disclose their financial accounts. However, as former spouses sometimes learn, not everyone is truthful about these assets. Running a credit report is the best way to ensure you’re aware of every account bearing your name.

One party doesn’t pay his or her agreed-upon share

Most courts are willing to work with couples to help them discuss and agree on a payment plan for shared assets, such as a home or any jointly-owned property.

One party still has access to the other party’s accounts

In the event that divorcing spouses do not split their joint accounts, both parties will still be responsible for any additional charges. It’s best to split any joint accounts as soon as possible.

Credit limits are decreased

Many creditors regularly check up on their clients to see if there has been a salary change, and most credit card agreements state that limits can be decreased at the creditor’s discretion. If one spouse was making more money than the other, and the accounts are separated, a credit card company can choose to lower the limits for one or both spouses. This can, in turn, affect credit scores, as well as catapult credit card holders to their maximum limits very quickly.

The divorce turns ugly

While no one enjoys going through divorce, the best solution is to try to remain civil to one another, lowering the risk of spouses doing financial harm to one another out of spite.

There is confusion over the divorce decree

People can often be confused about their financial responsibility as stated in the divorce decree. If you are unsure of where you stand or what you must pay, consult your attorney, family court facilitator, or mediator.

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Spouses don’t work together

Sometimes, electric bills can be overlooked or go unpaid. Keeping the divorce process as amicable as possible helps parties communicate with one another over their shared financial responsibility after the households have been completely separated. Working together ensures everyone’s credit remains in good standing.

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