Keeping credit cards after a divorce
I am almost divorced and we have signed a
property settlement. Is there any way I can keep the "joint"
accounts and credit cards that are mine now? I have many deposits
and bills being paid from same. Thanks for your answer.
-- Janice Jaundiced
You can ask the creditor to convert joint accounts to individual
accounts, but it is at their discretion whether they are willing
to do so. You may need to reapply for credit with the company
to open an individual account.
The Federal Trade Commission's
online publication, Credit
and Divorce, says the following:
If you're considering
divorce or separation, pay special attention to the status
of your credit accounts. If you maintain joint accounts
during this time, it's important to make regular payments
so your credit record won't suffer. As long as there's an
outstanding balance on a joint account, you and your spouse
are responsible for it.
If you divorce, you
may want to close joint accounts or accounts in which your
former spouse was an authorized user. Or ask the creditor
to convert these accounts to individual accounts.
By law, a creditor cannot close a joint
account because of a change in marital status, but can do
so at the request of either spouse. A creditor, however,
does not have to change joint accounts to individual accounts.
The creditor can require you to reapply for credit on an
individual basis and then, based on your new application,
extend or deny you credit. In the case of a mortgage or
home equity loan, a lender is likely to require refinancing
to remove a spouse from the obligation.
Get a copy of your credit report and credit
score from the three principal credit bureaus. It will provide
a snapshot of your credit history and allow you to make sure
you're not missing anything in closing down the joint accounts
or transitioning them, when possible, to individual accounts.
Guide to Managing Credit provides the contact information
for the three major credit bureaus.
The key in managing
your credit in a divorce is to recognize that the creditor
isn't party to the divorce and isn't bound by the terms of
a divorce decree. Joint obligations survive the divorce, and
late payments and missed payments will continue to affect
your credit history. You may have legal recourse against your
ex-husband if he doesn't keep to the terms of the divorce
decree, but that won't stop lenders from looking to you for
Since you're at a point where you've already
signed a property settlement, changing accounts to individual
accounts should be fairly straightforward. Work with the banks
and financial institutions to make these changes.
-- Posted: Sept. 23, 2004