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Divorce can hurt your credit score

Just when you thought divorce couldn't be more stressful, here comes another reason to worry: going through a divorce can have a negative impact on your credit score. If that happens, it'll be tough to get a new mortgage, an equity loan or new credit card accounts as a once-again single person. It'll take years to rebuild it, right?

But it's not as dire as you'd think. If you can do damage control on the three following items before they become problems, you won't have to worry about this aspect of your divorce. All it takes is careful advance planning, money management and a little restraint.

So how can I stop this from happening?

(1) Avoid putting the extra expenses you're facing on a credit card, if possible. You'll need to pay for a lawyer, court fees, child care (potentially) and a host of other things as you move forward and begin to establish a new life. This could make you run up your credit card, which can adversely affect your credit score. Don't put the high-ticket items on your Visa. It might seem easy at the time, but it could come back to haunt you. Think of alternative ways to pay for things, if you can. Is there a valuable asset you can sell to pay these bills?

(2) Pay all of your bills on time. This includes credit card, utility, mortgage and car payments-the usual suspects, but it matters more now because you will be creating new accounts as well as still dealing with old joint accounts. Your future ex-spouse may not feel so dedicated about paying bills on time, or may dispute what they're responsible for. Don't let any payments fall through the cracks. When in doubt, pay the bill, if you are financially able.

(3) Monitor your joint bank and credit card accounts for anything unusual, like your spouse withdrawing large amounts to squirrel away, or charging expensive items to be vindictive. Separate your accounts: de-authorize your spouse from any accounts you once added them to, and make settling the debts of these joint accounts a top priority in your divorce agreement. The sooner you do this, the better.

If you can avoid these risks, your credit score shouldn't be affected. Speak with an attorney about other strategies to get you successfully through the divorce and on to building your new life. 

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