How to Protect Your Credit During a Divorce
Living in Texas, a community property state, married couples are exposed to the liability of debts accumulated by their spouse. Credit card debt is one of those areas where couples going through a divorce are particularly vulnerable.
Below are a few tips on protecting yourself:
- Once you and your spouse have separated, make sure that you cancel all joint credit card accounts and bank accounts. While you "may" be held responsible for debt incurred by a spouse who has his own credit card account in his name only, you will definitely be held responsible if both of your names are on the credit card account.
- Keep an eye on your credit report. If a divorce or separation is hostile, it is not uncommon to hear of a spouse forging their estranged partner's signature on credit card accounts. If you see credit card accounts on your credit report that you did not open, contact the company immediately and have them cancelled.
- Keep track of your spending and usage of credit cards. If a spouse is using a credit card for things other than marital expenses, you may be able to escape liability for that credit card debt. But in order for you to successfully use this strategy you will need to keep good records of when you separated and how money was spent.
- Along the lines of keeping track of credit card spending, a court will not hold you responsible for "marital waste." For example, if your spouse charged gambling debts onto your joint credit card account, a court might count that as marital waste and free you from any obligation of paying that debt.