The unfortunate reality is that 1 in 3 marriages end in divorce in Australia, so you’re certainly not alone if your relationship ends. But along with the emotional upheaval a divorce can bring, be mindful of the possible impact on your credit rating.
The good news first. Getting a divorce shouldn’t in itself directly affect your credit rating. But there are two ways in which a divorce could see your credit score take a hit. Before we look at these, it’s important to understand why it’s worth maintaining a healthy credit score.
Your credit score can reflect your credit worthiness
Your credit rating, represented by your credit score, is something lenders use to assess what sort of credit risk you represent. If your credit rating suggests you won’t be able to pay a loan back, you may not get approved for a loan.
Understandably, your personal credit rating may not be your top priority when you first separate or divorce but as you start to build a new life for yourself, you may plan to buy a new place using a home loan.
That’s when having a good credit record matters because a high credit score can be a real asset when it comes to having your home loan approved.
Aim to pay bills on time
A divorce can bring massive life changes – including plenty you may not have seen coming. But it’s still critical to take care of your credit score.
First, let your lender and other financial institutions know that you have divorced, especially if you have changed your name. This helps to keep your credit report accurate.
Next, despite the rigours of divorce, aim to pay bills on time. Setting up direct debits or using mobile apps can make it easier to stay on top of bills that are in your name.
The danger area can be joint accounts
A particular concern can be when you and your ex continue to hold joint accounts even after you’ve separated – as any actions your former spouse takes can impact your credit score.
For instance, if you and your former partner hold a joint credit card, any late payments or defaults by your former spouse can negatively impact your own credit rating.
Given the risks involved, it’s a good idea to seek legal advice to know if it is appropriate for you to close down any joint accounts and establish new accounts in your own name to avoid damage to your credit record.
The same can apply to your home loan. Talk to your legal experts about the right way to protect your credit score. Steps like asking your lender to cancel a home loan redraw facility can prevent a blow out of your home loan debt if your ex uses the facility to draw down funds.
What you can do now
Make a habit of checking your credit score no matter whether you are recently separated or navigating a divorce. This lets you identify mistakes in your credit history.
It costs nothing to get to know your credit score with Credit Savvy. You can even apply for free alerts that let you know if your credit score changes in the future. It’s a step that could help you stay on top of anything that shouldn’t be in your file. And that can be the start of building a bright new future for yourself.
Have you checked your credit score recently? Take a look at Credit Savvy to see how your score shapes up.
You may also be interested in Why isn’t my credit score higher?, 5 good reasons to regularly check your credit score and I had a bad credit score. Now I don’t.