Breaking up is hard to do. And, as nearly 50% of Canadians can attest, the last thing you need to have to deal with is worrying about your credit. The emotional upheaval, the stress on the children, the division of assets, there are so many more pressing things to worry about that we often neglect what is happening behind the scenes with our finances until it is too late.
Whether you are currently in the process of getting a divorce, are thinking it might be in your future, or know someone who is getting a divorce, this blog is a must-read. You will learn what to watch for, what steps to take and tips on how to avoid some common critical mistakes.
DIVORCE DOES NOT EQUAL BAD CREDIT:
The first thing that may seem simple but is one of the first questions people ask, is whether getting divorced will affect their credit. The short answer is no. The act, in and of itself, of getting a divorce does in no way affect your credit score. Marital status is not one of the determining factors in credit scoring. There are, of course, things that can happen during the divorce that will affect your rating but not the divorce itself.
KNOW YOUR SCORE?:
Before we get into the nitty gritty of what needs to be done during a divorce to protect your credit rating, it would be a good idea to have a starting point as a reference. Do you know what your current credit rating is? The first step would be to contact the two main Canadian credit bureaus and ask for a free copy of your credit report. You can find the details on how to ask for the report and what information is needed here. Once you receive the copy of your report, take a minute to go over it and make sure that there are no errors. That is one of the easiest ways to improve your credit score almost instantly. For more ways to improve your credit score, check out one of our blog posts on the subject: How to Improve Your Credit Score in Less Than 30 Days.
DIVISION OF DEBTS:
So, now that you know where your credit currently stands, you can begin to monitor it closely for any changes. The first thing to remember, in a divorce, is that the division of debts (whether done amicably or through the courts) does not mean your ex-spouses financial responsibilities will not affect your credit. Example: let’s say you and your former spouse have decided that you will continue to pay the mortgage while he/she will take over the payments for the car. And let’s also say that, while you have been diligently paying your mortgage on time, your former spouse has neglected to make the car payment. Because your name is still attached to the car debt, your credit will be affected by those late payments.
The solution, in this case, is that in addition to the division of debts, you must also remove your name, whenever possible, from those debts. Make a list of all of your debts (credit cards, lines of credit, loans, mortgage, car, furniture loans, etc….) and then, one by one, divide the names on those loans. It will save you many future headaches!
DIVIDE ASSETS TOO:
Great! You have made sure that the debts are now evenly divided and you have removed your name for any debts you have amassed over the years. But what about the rest of your joint items? Divorces, even the most amicable ones, can very quickly turn sour. There have been countless divorcees that have been blindsided by a vindictive ex who decides to get revenge in the worst ways! One such popular revenge method is the financial one: making large purchases on joint accounts. Or borrowing against joint assets. As early as possible, it is important to start closing out joint anything! Bank accounts, lines of credit, joint accounts with loan companies, etc… Even if there are currently no outstanding loans or any debt in the line of credit. Any account that is both names need to be closed out and put into only one person’s name. Your future self will thank you for having the foresight to prevent any potential future credit disasters!
ADJUST YOUR LIFESTYLE:
One very important piece of advice for couples about to get a divorce or who are recently divorced is about learning to adjust to your new lifestyle. More specifically, your newly reduced single income. You have adopted a lifestyle and habits in a couple-hood of two incomes. And, while you are now down to only one, your expenses might not drop down based on that same ratio. You may need to change some habits, reduce some spending, and minimize debt as much as possible. Your credit score also takes into account your level of debt so making sure to drop that level down is one sure-fire way to maintain a great rating. If you need some tips on how to reduce expenses, check out the iCASH blog article on some Common Money Wasters, as well as How to Save on Your Grocery Bill and Still Make Awesome Meals.
Getting a divorce is literally one of the hardest things to go through. There are so many difficult facets of this life-altering event: dealing with heartbreak, helping the children get through it (if children are present), deciding on living arrangements, dividing the assets, going to court, talking to lawyers, etc… Figuring out your finances is just one piece of this very messy puzzle. iCASH understands how difficult this is for everyone involved. If you need a quick loan for any reason, don’t hesitate to reach out! www.icash.ca