Women & Money: Rebounding After a Divorce

Savvy money management skills are a necessity to weather these tough economic times. BlackEnterprise.com has got you covered with our supplement to the magazine’s three-part “Women & Money” series.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll have Divorce money management tips and strategies from Harrine Freeman, CEO and owner of H.E. Freeman Enterprises, a credit counseling service.

BlackEnterprise.com: How can you rebound, in terms of credit, after a divorce? Is it true that what your husband did financially also affects your score even after divorce?
Harrine Freeman: January is the month when most divorces are filed.  For every 1,000 marriages, 3.6 divorces occurred in the U.S. in 2008. Divorcing a spouse can be a traumatic, stressful and painful experience.  Create a support network of family and friends or join a support group for divorcees to help work through any issues.

What your husband did financially only affects your credit after divorce if you had or have joint accounts. Here are six tips to help you get back on track with your credit after a divorce.

1.    Remove your name and close all joint accounts and cancel the cards.  Canceling the credit cards ensures that your spouse or another person cannot use the credit card in the future.

2.    If you are an authorized user on any of your ex-spouse’s accounts, remove your name as an authorized user.  Ensure that it is also reflected on your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports. Try to work with your ex-spouse to setup a plan to pay off joint debt. You may have to get a mediator to help negotiate payment of the outstanding debt.

3.    If you had joint accounts and your spouse got into debt during the marriage that you were unaware you will still be held liable to pay the debt because you name is on the account.

4.    Contact all of your creditors in writing and notify them that you are now divorced if you previously had joint accounts with your ex-spouse.  If you are unable to make a payment on a joint account notify your creditor immediately to setup a payment plan to keep your credit in tact.

5.    Order a copy of your credit report and review it once every six months forthe first year after the divorce to be sure your credit is not damaged and to ensure no new accounts appear on your credit report.

6.    Open individual accounts in your name only such as: insurance polices, bank accounts, retirement accounts, etc. Transfer your share of the money from joint accounts to your individual accounts.

7.    Get a land line in your name only.  This can be helpful if you are trying to establish credit.

8.    If you don’t have any credit in your name, open a personal line of credit with your local bank or credit union, or open a secured credit card account.