How divorce can negatively affect credit scores

Posted by Lauren S. CohenApr 29, 20190 Comments

Divorce can be hard on credit scores for some people living in New York. It is the things that happen as a result of a divorce and not the divorce itself that causes a decrease in credit score. Debts may be split as part of a divorce decree, but if a person's name remains on the debt, this is whom creditors will pursue regardless of what the couple agreed on.

Divorce also leaves some people struggling financially on a single income. This impact may fall disproportionately on women. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the last quarter of 2018, women working full time earned on average $200 less per week than men. A study by the credit agency Experian found that over half of women reported damage to their credit during their marriage, and half said their ex-spouse ruined their credit.

One step people should take to protect their credit is removing the spouse from any accounts on which they are an authorized user. Spouses can also work to ensure that all joint accounts are closed or put in one name only. This may involve having to refinance a mortgage or sell assets altogether. Spouses who have not worked outside the home may take some time to recover financially after a divorce. However, even for people whose credit is badly damaged, it is possible to rebuild that credit over time.

One error people make sometimes in a divorce is failing to push hard enough to protect themselves financially. They might want the divorce over with quickly or may feel guilty about the divorce, but it is important for people to understand their rights and get a fair share in property division. An attorney may be able to help a person review those rights and options for property division and to prepare a strategy for divorce negotiations or litigation.