Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
Over the course of my career—first as a bank manager and now in my job at Equifax—I’ve worked with a lot of people coming out of a divorce. They’re trying to start a new life on their own, and the financial details can be a tough knot to untangle.
The big question I always hear from people is, “In the settlement, the divorce decree states this debt belongs to my ex-spouse, so why is it showing up on my credit report?”
Unfortunately, lenders, credit grantors, and credit-reporting agencies don’t care about who got what or what your divorce decree states. If your name is on the account and the debt is held jointly, you are responsible for making sure that debt gets paid.
Here are some of the other most common questions I hear about credit and divorce.
FAQ: Will my spouse’s information or accounts appear on my credit report?
You and your spouse each have your own separate credit file. The consumer reporting agencies maintain credit files on individual U.S. residents only. They do not maintain joint files for spouses. Only accounts that are in both names will show up on both files. Any account for which you are a cosigner or an authorized user will also show up on your file.
FAQ: How do I make sure my credit report accurately reflects my name change and new personal information?
If your personal information (name, address, etc.) is incorrect on your credit file, we recommend that you first contact each of your creditors and confirm that your personal information is correct in their records. Updating your personal information with your creditors will help make sure that information they report to Equifax is correct.
You may need to provide the following documentation to confirm your identity and personal information:
FAQ: How do jointly held accounts show up on my credit report?
When you open a new line of credit, you can apply for an individual account or a joint account. Joint accounts will be listed on your credit report as a joint account if the creditor reports it as such.
FAQ: How do I separate my credit accounts from my ex-spouse’s accounts?
You can close all joint accounts (making sure the balance is paid in full and on time) and reopen accounts in your name only. You should be able to avoid future credit tangles with new accounts.
However, closing out joint accounts and reestablishing individual accounts may affect your credit score. A better approach might be to work with your creditor to separate the debt (if possible) and reestablish the account in your name only.
FAQ: How do I inform lenders and credit grantors of my divorce?
If you have individual accounts, your divorce probably won’t affect your credit cards or loans too much. If they’re joint accounts, contact each creditor individually and work with them on how best to report the debt to the credit-reporting agencies.
FAQ: Can my ex-spouse see my credit report?
Your spouse or ex-spouse cannot see your credit report without written permission from you.
FAQ: My ex-spouse is responsible for some late payments on my credit report. How do I explain that?
The bottom line is that if you signed up for an account with someone else, you are responsible for that debt being paid. Even if your spouse agrees to pay the debt in the divorce settlement and that is reflected in the divorce decree, you are still legally liable for the debt. The creditor will hold those who applied for the account, whether it is individual or joint, responsible for paying on time and in full.
However, if you do find yourself with a blemish on your credit report due to your spouse’s payment history, you can submit a consumer statement to be attached to your credit report. You can detail the situation and explain your circumstances. Some creditors may take the statement into account when evaluating you for future credit and risk.
Don’t forget to check out last week’s post on Establishing Credit with Joint Accounts.
Interest Rate Shopping and Its Effect on Your Credit Score
Credit Report FAQs: What Do I Do When a Family Member Dies?
Can Equifax Decline My Credit Application?
Credit Trends: Super-Prime Consumers Tap Home Equity Lines of Credit and Credit Cards Not Available To Most
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.