Understanding Debts and Credit
Key Points
  • Get a handle (and help if needed) on managing new and old credit or debt during the divorce process.

Although a particular marriage may be coming to an end as a result of divorce, unfortunately, the same cannot be said for any and all debts and/or credit obligations accumulated during that marriage. While there are many uncertainties connected with the entire divorce process, one element can be counted on to remain constant - the monthly bills. Therefore, from the moment the decision to separate is made, it is very important to understand the effects this will have on your debts and credit rating.

A person's credit history is very important as it is a major means by which a particular creditor can judge whether or not you are a good risk for a loan or credit line. Your history reflects what you have done with previous loans/credit lines and your willingness to repay borrowed monies. This factor and your current income are what determine what is known as your "credit worthiness". It is your credit worthiness that will ultimately decide whether or not you will be granted the loan or line of credit you apply for.

Getting Help With Credit Problems or Questions

The Consumer Credit Counseling Service is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people understand, prevent, and solve credit issues. For people with severe troubles, there is a Debt Management Program through CCCS which can help to manage and repay debts by restructuring your budget and negotiating on your behalf with creditors. There are more than 1,000 CCCS offices throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada providing low-cost or even free services. It is their policy to turn their back on no one, regardless of ability to pay. To contact the nearest location, refer to the local telephone book or phone 1-800-388-CCCS.

Useful Online Tools

Suggested Reading
The Property Division Handbook The Property Division Handbook
This book will explain in detail the property distribution aspect of divorce and separation. It will focus on the rights each spouse has under certain laws, situations, and circumstances, and how the division of the property will be decided by the court or through negotiation.

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DATE OF SEPARATION – Depending upon the laws of the state of residence, the Date of Separation – called the DOS – has a profound impact on the eventual division and distribution of property and debt, including credit, pension benefits, and other marital assets. As of the DOS, the separated spouses are now in limbo legally and financially and remain so until the actual Date of Divorce. A great deal of money may be at stake. For example, one spouse may share responsibility for any debts incurred by the other; the value of a retirement plan or other marital asset, such as residential property, may fluctuate, often by thousands of dollars.
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