How to protect your credit profile when going through a divorce

Since it is inevitable that your partner can, one way or the other, influence your credit standing, it is always advisable for you to pay attention to these financial matters especially if you are going through a divorce. Your credit report and profile is important for your future and that of your children, but how can you protect your credit and financial position from an irresponsible partner?

Avoid the Joint

Firstly, avoid the word “Joint”. Make it a point to avoid joint agreements which tie both parties into the same financial responsibilities. It also means limiting authorized users of your credit cards and keeping separate checking accounts.

It is easier to control and maintain your credit position that way. Should you discover your spouse is abusing your credit and has been keeping you in the dark, try doing the following actions: Get hold of your credit report as soon as possible. Go through the report and as you deem necessary, get protection from the authorities.

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This way, your partner won’t be able to make credit transactions under your name. Until you are clear with your partner, it would be best to put on hold any plans of putting assets into your joint accounts.

Open a new bank account

Open new bank accounts and stop transacting through your partner’s accounts. Should the situation warrant the removal of your name from your partner’s accounts, get a lawyer to guide you.

Hiding assets or debts

Some of the steps above may not have to be taken if only both of you can clear things up. For some couples, doing this step may be all that is needed.But if you feel that your spouse is beginning to be secretive about his or her finances, or you suspect that a third party is involved, it’s time to investigate whether he/she has hidden assets (or debts) that you don’t know about.

Through these agencies, you may be able to discover where your spouse is hiding their dollars…

District Civil Office This office keeps pertinent records of cases such as debts, judgments, divorce, auto accidents, damages, and business disputes. Even if the cases are old, pull all files up and proceed to browse through pertinent financial information. In most of these cases, if any, your spouse would have been required to disclose his assets and damages.

County Assumed Name Office Go to this office if you suspect that your spouse is using aliases as a cover up or has used a dba (doing business as) identity. If you find a record like this, review the records for previous addresses and possible business partners. You can pursue your investigation with the information that you find.

County UCC Office If your spouse has obtained loans and posted collaterals, the information would often be filed with the county UCC. If there are records there, get copies of these records to check if he posted assets and then check if the loans are already paid or if the assets have been cleared or are still owned by your spouse.

County Deed Office Records from this office are good sources of information as these records deal with property purchases and sales. However, as you go through these records, you will be bombarded with possible additional information such as those about mineral rights, judgments, liens, power of attorney documents, garnishments and gifts. Now, check for sold properties as transactions involving these properties.

Ask your investigator to extend the investigation as to who has bought these properties. If the buyer is a friend of your spouse, there’s the possibility that it is an attempt to hide properties. If the buyer is a bank, check if that bank is the bank where your spouse does most of his banking transactions. Spouses who would like to hide assets usually make use of people and institutions who they can count on the most. 

Band Indexes Office Many counties require registration of livestock brands. If your spouse deals with livestock business or have friends with the same businesses, check with this office. You might discover more than what you have imagined. If your spouse has this kind of business, make sure that you note all of the properties and equipment involved in running the business. 

Tax Assessor Office This office is a well of information because your spouse, just like anybody else, is required to pay taxes on properties, cash earned, and automobiles. Now, don’t jump to the conclusion that he owns all these properties in his tax records. But, it is just logical to think that he has some financial connections to these assets.

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Appraisal District Office As soon as you determine the properties your spouse is paying taxes on, the next important office to go to is the appraisal district office. This is where you can find the information about the properties’ values. Make sure to check addresses. It is possible that the mailing address used by your spouse is different from that of the property.

Check with the Police It is possible that your spouse may be involved with some criminal activities. Check with the police because this may lead you to knowing more names involved in your spouse’s present and past life.

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