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Couples who obtain a divorce in Missouri may wish to reflect on how their new status will affect their credit. Joint accounts and shared liabilities can continue for years after the marital union they were based on has been dissolved. Attention to detail at the time of dissolution can save serious impact to credit ratings and prevent payment on debt unfairly owed.

Individual credit accounts may not have been affected directly by the marriage. Although debts from one spouse’s individual accounts may sometimes appear on the credit report of the other spouse, they will not be legally responsible for paying them. The spouse, or any other individual, may have been added to the account as an authorized user. This would cause the account to appear on their credit report as well. After a divorce, the spouse may be de-authorized, and the accounts may be converted back to fully individual status.

Joint accounts are those that have been set up in the names of both spouses. Responsibility for the account rests equally on the two, and dereliction on payments can damage both parties’ credit ratings. Experts on the issue advise that the payments on the account be scrupulously maintained during the divorce process. After the dissolution of the union, the accounts can be closed or moved into the name of just one partner. Creditors cannot close a joint account by themselves, but they may close the account at the request of either ex-spouse.

The divorce settlement contains important information for moving forward into the two separate economic futures of the ex-partners. An attorney may be able to assist them by reviewing the proposed settlement to make sure that all essential provisions have been included and that relevant Missouri laws have been complied with.

Source: FindLaw, “Credit and Divorce,” Accessed Feb. 6, 2015