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Dealing with credit cards during and after divorce

An important part of financial independence after a divorce is managing your credit cards. Likely, you and your spouse have at least one or more joint credit cards.

That means that your spouse can rack up all sorts of debt on them that you'll be accountable for. That's why it's essential, even if you don't believe that he or she would intentionally put you in financial jeopardy, that you get a handle on your current credit cards and re-evaluate your credit card needs moving forward.

Make sure you know all credit cards that have your name on them. Don't rely on what you think you know or what your spouse tells you. Order your credit report. You want to look at everything that's listed – not just credit cards, but other lines of credit and loans. A good credit score is essential to getting a mortgage, car loan or other credit at reasonable interest rates.

How do you decide what cards to keep and which to close? It may be tempting to take your name off of all joint cards for your own protection and to make a fresh start. However, that's probably not the best decision.

Generally, older credit cards, assuming that they're in good standing, are the best to keep. However, you also want to re-evaluate which ones will be most beneficial. Does one offer extra rewards for purchases at merchants such as grocery stores and gas stations that you'll be using frequently? If you travel a lot, you may want to keep one that gives you travel rewards.

It's best when couples can work together to determine which cards each will keep and which they'll remove their name from. For the cards you're keeping, have the issuer change the account number.

It's probably best not to keep more than three to five cards in your name, at most. You want enough to maintain a respectable credit score, but not so many that you can't keep up with the payments.

Your Rhode Island family law attorney can help you with any questions or concerns you have about your credit cards and other credit issues that you have. It's best to discuss those once you've begun considering divorce or you believe your spouse has. Your credit score is one of the most important elements of your financial future as a newly-single person.

Source: NewsOK, "How to Assess Your Credit Card Needs After Divorce," June 28, 2017

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