Managing your credit and debt after a divorce can seem overwhelming, but it will save you many headaches further down the road. Read on for tips on maintaining good credit, including setting up your own accounts, paying off debts, and protecting yourself from identity theft.

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Even though your marriage is over, and you've signed a Marital Settlement Agreement dividing your assets and debts, you still need to end your responsibility with the credit companies for those accounts. Close any joint accounts you had with your partner: credit card, checking and savings accounts, mutual funds, mortgages etc. Open new banking and credit accounts in your own name to start building up your own credit, but don't apply for too many charge accounts at once, as this makes lenders wary. Notify all your accounts if you've gotten a Legal Name Change.

Large loans, like mortgages, may be difficult to refinance so you'll have to work with your ex-spouse to pay off that joint account. Manage such joint accounts carefully, since your ex-spouse's actions can affect your credit, and vice versa. Putting these accounts online and setting up direct deposits can make management much easier. If you are in deep debt after your divorce, let your spouse know so that your joint accounts don't suffer. You should also consider a debt management program to help you create a budget and payment schedules. Most importantly, be disciplined and organized.

Get a copy of your Credit Report to make sure you are no longer listed with your spouse on any other accounts. Since credit companies and other financial institutions are not party to your divorce agreements, they are legally allowed to collect from you if you are listed on an account, regardless of whether you are responsible for charges or even aware of your name on the account. You should also check for any merged accounts (accounts your spouse had before the marriage) so you can tell the company that any activity on that account happened before you were married, and you are not responsible. After taking these steps, if there are still charges on your credit report that you are not responsible for, you can dispute the statements with a Credit Report Challenge.

Finally, protect yourself against identity theft. Your ex-spouse has had access to important information like your social security number, birth date, bank accounts and card numbers, and could potentially damage your credit through identity theft. Change your passwords, and be vigilant for any new accounts opened in your name. To find out more, visit the Identity Theft Legal Center.

Get started Ask a Divorce Lawyer a Question You'll hear back in one business day.

Get started Ask a Divorce Lawyer a Question You'll hear back in one business day.