Divorce is hard enough without one spouse abusing a joint credit card. But take heart, there are a few tried-and-true ways to get a reluctant spouse off your credit card — and out of that part of your financial life.
Let’s take a look. First, know that the end of a marriage can leave partners in emotional tatters. In the maelstrom of a breakup, particularly early on in the process, loose ends go unrepaired, and that can cost a spouse plenty if they aren’t addressed.
Credit cards are a good example of that. Even though a marriage is dissolving, creditors still want to get paid. And if both names are on the card, then both spouses are responsible for paying the tab.
The solution? Turn off the financial spigot before you divorce. Here are a few tips:
Start by contacting your credit card carrier and letting them know that you want to remove yourself as an authorized user. There may be some payments to negotiate between you and your ex, and if it becomes rancorous, you might have to close the card out and ask for a new one. By and large, though, joint credit card accounts can be closed at the request of one party.
If you still have a balance on your card, your credit card company likely won’t allow you to close the account. So you’ll either have to pay it off or, if that’s not possible, you’ll have to ask your card carrier to “freeze” your account until the balance is satisfied.
Make sure to tell your card carrier to contact the major credit bureaus that the account was shut down at your request. Also, tell your card company that you won’t be responsible for any more charges on the card. Record the dates, time and name of the customer service representative — you might need them later on to prove that you requested your card be closed.
Follow up with a letter confirm that you’ve requested that your name be removed from the card or that the card be closed. Send the letter via registered mail, so you are absolutely certain that the card company received it. Ask your card company to confirm that the card is closed out with a written letter of their own.
Wait a few months, then check your credit report to make sure that your credit card is listed as “closed” on your reports, or at least that your name isn’t on the card anymore. If it’s still listed as open, contact your card company immediately. To get a free credit report, visit the sbup Credit Center.
While closing a card out may ding your credit score, the financial damage that can be inflicted by a vengeful spouse is far more threatening, so don’t have any qualms about closing the card out, and moving on with your financial life.
—For more ways to save, spend, invest and borrow, visit MainStreet.com.