James Asks… I was divorced a few years ago and my former wife and I agreed to split the bills. She is not paying and the credit card companies are calling ME. I’m not responsible right?

James, unfortunately you most likely ARE responsible!

You have to remember your creditors did not agree to your divorce, only you and your spouse did – they only agreed to extend the credit to you jointly at a time when they had a reasonable expectation of being repaid the debt.

So if it was a joint debt, the divorce decree legally absolves you from the debt. However, the credit reporting aspect is a different story –the creditor will report and try to collect from either party sometimes as long as it takes. Your marital status or income has no bearing on your credit score – it is only based on how well you pay – or don’t pay. The credit score is a numerical assessment of risk. So, if you are trying to keep your credit good through the divorce process, make sure that debts are divided BEFORE the divorce is final and that accounts are refinanced in your individual names – cars and houses etc…

Lines of credit should be paid off and if that isn’t possible a joint account should be set up to pay those joint debts until they are paid in full. Credit is very important and even more so when you are potentially trying to start over with items in your own name, having to rent an apartment or buy a house on your own is difficult if there are items outstanding – regardless of what your divorce decree says!

My best advice is to be vigilant about your credit – monitor it and make sure you are the only one in charge of what happens with your score!

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About Cheryl

As a successful business owner and community leader, Cheryl Braunschweiger is known and respected for getting things done with a degree of skill and enthusiasm that bring out the best in those around her - colleagues, clients and friends. The name of her business, ALMC Mortgage, reflects Cheryl's philosophy and personality. She says it stands for All Loans Must Close –a reflection of her determination to do whatever it takes to serve her clients. Cheryl has been in the mortgage lending business for 20 years. Read More About Cheryl
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