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Protecting your credit score during and after divorce

A divorce can wreak havoc on your credit score. This is particularly true for people who were not the primary wage earner in their marriages and/or those who ceded control of financial matters to their spouses.

Regardless of your role in the family finances during your marriage, it's essential to take control of your financial situation as soon as you realize that you're going to be on your own. Your family law attorney can help and also possibly recommend a financial advisor.

An important part of taking control is knowing what accounts, credit cards and loans your name is on. It also means knowing and protecting your credit score. You will need a good score to establish credit in your own name, apply for loans and move forward as a single person.

The first step is getting your credit reports from the three credit reporting companies. Review them carefully so that know exactly what your name is on.

Next, you'll want to take steps to get your name off of joint accounts and credit cards and to establish new ones in your name only. It's best to consult with your attorney and a financial advisor, if you have one, before doing this.

Don't go overboard with getting too many new cards. That can negatively impact your credit. Further, you may have to start with secured credit cards until you build up a credit history in your own name.

Ensure that you pay all of your bills on time. You should give top priority to those that are solely in your name. The next priority should be those that are still in your and your spouse's name if he or she is not paying them. Late payments can have a serious impact on your credit score and cost you late fees.

If you are having problems with your estranged spouse not paying his or her share of the bills while you're going through the divorce, let your attorney know so that action can be taken through the court if necessary.

Your financial health will be an important part of your new life after your divorce. The break-up of a marriage can be a time of emotional turmoil that prevents people from thinking clearly about their financial future. You need trusted North Dakota professionals who are looking out for your best interests -- even if you're not sure what they are.

Source: The Huffington Post, "How to Improve Your Credit Score After Divorce" Curtis Arnold, Mar. 13, 2015

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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