Individuals in West Virginia and throughout the country are encouraged to take a series of steps prior to a divorce that may help to protect their credit. The first step is to make a list of joint accounts that may have an outstanding balance on them. Regardless of the language contained in a final divorce settlement, an individual could be liable for paying the balance of a joint account.

Therefore, it is important to take steps to ensure that the other spouse is not able to accrue new debt before the divorce is final. Individuals are advised to remove their spouses as authorized users of any credit cards that are in their name only. After the divorce, it is a good idea to close joint accounts so that they no longer have an impact on a person’s credit score.

Prior to closing the accounts, it is a good idea to determine how to divide any rewards or other perks that were earned while it was open. After a divorce is finalized, it may be a good idea for a person to consider freezing his or her credit profile. This will make it difficult or impossible for anyone to open an account in his or her name. Even if a person chooses not to do this, it is still a good idea to regularly monitor information reported to the major credit bureaus.

A divorce attorney may be able to provide insight into the potential impact ending a marriage could have on a person’s overall finances. A legal representative might also help a person achieve greater financial security after a marriage ends. For instance, an individual may obtain a portion of a brokerage or retirement account that may significantly appreciate in value over the next several years.