While divorce does not directly impact your credit, there are often financial consequences of divorce that can negatively impact your credit. The most important action you can take to keep your credit intact through divorce is to keep paying your bills, even the minimum payment will keep you out of trouble on your credit. Once the divorce is final, you need to build credit in your own name while sorting out the debt you have with your ex-spouse. Ignoring creditors and debt won’t make them go away.

Here are our tips for rebuilding your credit after divorce:

1. Keep paying. There’s nothing worse you can do to your credit than not paying your bills. Keep track of all accounts and the amount you are paying on each account for future reference.

2. Check Your Credit. After the divorce is final, go to annualcreditreport.com and pull your credit reports from all three reporting agencies. You can get one free report from each agency each year. Review all accounts to see if there are any discrepancies and file disputes with the credit reporting agencies.

3. Notify creditors. Typically there are stipulations in a divorce decree of which spouse owes which debt. Notify creditors as to who is responsible for the debt. If your ex-spouse doesn’t want to cooperate, you may need to send a copy of the decree to the creditor and explain the situation.

4. Open bank accounts. If you haven’t done so already, open a bank account in your name only.

5. Create a budget. In order to pay your bills on time, we recommend reviewing your income and expenses to determine where you may need to make cuts. You may, for example, need to move to a less expensive home, even if for a year to get you back on your financial feet.

6. Apply for credit. If you can’t obtain an unsecured credit card in your name, apply for a secured credit card. You will have to put money in a savings account up to the amount of your approved credit limit. To build credit fastest, experts recommend using only up to 30% of the available credit.

7. Old debt. If you’ve paid on debt that is the responsibility of your ex-spouse, you may, in some cases, be able to sue your ex-spouse for the amount you have paid on their behalf. On debt you own jointly post-divorce, you should be able to get credit for payments you have made against your portion of the balance.

Rebuilding credit after divorce isn’t impossible but it does take some effort. Being diligent, reviewing your credit, and having a plan to build credit as a single person will go a long way to your financial success. If you have questions about your divorce decree, please contact Stuart and Blackwell.