Prior to filling divorce, you should run a joint credit report with all three credit bureaus to highlight your FICO® score: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. A FICO® score is based on your credit information that credit buraus keep on record.
Many people ask, “What type of items affect a FICO® score?”
There are multiple things that affect your FICO® score. Some items include:
- Payment History
It is imperative to pay your creditors on time. Credit institutions report to the credit bureaus when a person pays on time, which increases the credit score, of if they pay late, which decreases the credit score.
- How Much You Owe
Your credit is affected by how much you owe. If you are overdrawn and owe much more than you bring in, this is a negative tick against your credit
- Established and New Credit
Established credit builds credit history and adds to your FICO® score. It is important to build your credit to a level where you can sustain a balance of earning more than you owe and only have credit where needed. A person can have too much credit, such as a house, car and multiple credit card payments along with other lines of credit.
This step is vital to complete before you meet with your attorney because there may be assets or debts out there that could affect your financial situation. These could consist of debts/assets that you are not aware of, or it was mentioned to you in the past, but you did not understand what it meant and how it would affect you financially. This helps the financial planner get a better understanding of possible cashflow issues you may incur during the divorce process and post-divorce.
It is important to understand your debts, because like your assets, they will be divided up during the divorce. If this is not managed or reviewed properly, or if something is missed, this can cause problems later when settling the divorce. There is always a risk during the settlement when it is decided who is going to get what as both assets and debt are divided. Both parties are still responsible for the debt owed after the divorce to the creditor. You do not want to walk away from the divorce being responsible for most of the shared debt.
By understanding what is on your credit report prior to meeting with your attorney, you will be more prepared when it comes to how the debts and assets should be divided.
Every state has their own rules whether it’s a community property state, meaning everything is owned by the husband and wife, or if the debt belongs to the spouse that incurred the debt.
Credit reports are usually mandated by the court, so either way, you will be required to acquire this information. Having this information prior to meeting with your attorney makes you better prepared and leaves you with less “what if's.”