How can I protect my credit during a divorce? 12 Answers as of January 21, 2011

I have not seen my wife since 2007. I have no idea where she is located, though I believe in Texas right now. I want to start a divorce with her. The other issue is that while married we signed a joint auto contract. I have requested the auto maker to repo it since 2007 and it continually does not get repoed because she says no. It is affecting my credit and I need to address this matter as soon as possible to help my financial distress. Any and all information is welcomed. Need to take affirmative action now.

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Michael Rose Attorney at Law
Michael Rose Attorney at Law | Michael Rose
Start your divorce as soon as possible. Your date of separation will "detached" you and stop future debt.from your wife until your divorce is final. Get an attorney to figure out how to put the debt to rest. The date of separation is important and can be an issue at trial. If you repo the car then that will be on your credit also. You still can get a divorce even if she is in Texas or any other state.310 337 1600.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/21/2011
Law Office of Tim W. Avery
Law Office of Tim W. Avery | Tim W. Avery
Best advice is for you to hire a private investigator or skip-tracer to locate the whereabouts of your wife and then file your divorce and have her served. Then during the divorce, have the court address the car debt and how said debt should be allocated.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 1/12/2011
Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
The first way to protect your credit is to make the payment each month, even if she fails to do so. I would also recommend considering a motion to recover the vehicle from her. Please feel free to contact me for a free consultation.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/11/2011
Rice & Co., LPA
Rice & Co., LPA | Kollin Rice
If you are trying to protect your credit, having your car repossessed is not a good way to go about it. If the payments are being made, that would help, not hurt your credit. If they are not, then your credit is probably already in bad shape. If the payments are being made, you have decent credit, and your spouse wants to take the car, it should be refinanced in the name of the spouse who wants it. If no one wants it and you can sell it for what you owe on it, you should probably do so immediately. A divorce decree might order one spouse or the other to pay the car payment,
but if it does not get paid, it will adversely impact both of your
credit ratings.

Divorce in itself does not have a negative impact on your credit. Your credit rating is for the most part determined by whether you pay your debts in a timely manner and how much debt you have. If bills in your name don't get paid during or after a divorce, that is what will hurt your credit most. I have seen people's credit badly damaged by disputes over who is supposed to be paying what bills, or even spiteful non-payment of bills or debts and interference with delivery of bills to the person whose name they are in. But if your spouse is whereabouts unknown, you probably are not counting on her to pay any of your bills, nor is she likely running up bills in your name. In any case, you may want to close or remove one of your names from any joint credit accounts as soon as the decision is made to live financially separate lives.

Incidentally, it will likely save you hundreds of dollars in service by publication costs to locate a valid address for your spouse before filing for divorce.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 1/11/2011
Goldberg Jones
Goldberg Jones | Zephyr Hill
I suggest you file your divorce ASAP and get the court to Order her to refinance the car in her name, give it back to you, or sell it.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 1/11/2011
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP
    Cody and Gonillo, LLP | Christine Gonilla
    If you have been denied credit because of an adverse entry on a credit report you have the right to make the credit reporting companies carry your explanation about the particular debt. In a dissolution of marriage action you can ask the court to make your Wife hold you harmless and indemnify you from the debt. Please feel free to contact the office at the numbers below to set up an appointment to discuss further. We offer an initial free consultation. Best of luck.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 1/11/2011
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser
    Warner Center Law Offices of Donald F. Conviser | Donald F. Conviser
    You can file a divorce case here,your attorney can hire an investigator to try to locate your wife, and if unable to locate her,your attorney can obtain a declaration of due diligence from the investigator and obtain an Order for Publication of Summons to enable him to serve your wife by Publication.

    Protecting your credit against the loan obligation that you co-signed for is far more difficult. Both you and your wife are liable on that loan, so the best thing you could do would be to hire an investigator to locate the car (perhaps by locating your wife) to enable the car to be repossessed. Your wife doesn't need to agree to the repossession by the lender. All that is required is that the car loan is in arrears, that the car is locatable, and that the lender have a repossessor available in that vicinity to repossess the car.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/10/2011
    Michael Apicella
    Michael Apicella | Apicella Law and Mediation
    This is a difficult question to answer in a few short sentences, especially because more information is needed to determine the best course of action regarding the disposition of the vehicle. Also, it doesn't make sense that lender would refuse to repo a vehicle simply because someone "says no." A lender repos a vehicle if a certain number of payments are not made. They will not refrain from repossessing a car simply because a debtor doesn't want them to.

    In any event, to get court orders regarding the care, you need to first file a divorce petition. Once a case is opened with the court, you can request court orders regarding the vehicle's disposition, depending on various circumstances. For instance, you can ask that the car be sold, assuming there is some net equity. If you make any payments in the meantime, you can ask for reimbursement since wife has had exclusive use of the car.

    If there is no equity, it will be hard to sell. In that event, you could also ask for exclusive possession of the vehicle, and then turn the vehicle back over to the lender, again, assuming you're under water on the loan. Keep in mind that the lender is not a party to the divorce. Thus, as long as you're on the note (and the lender has no duty to take you off the note, regardless of who has the car), then you're responsible for making payments, and your credit will continue to be damaged by not doing so. Your wife's credit is also being harmed, correct?

    Your wife has a fiduciary duty to protect community assets, and not act in a way that damages your credit. I suggest you call a local family law lawyer to discuss the facts, and your options, in more detail.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/10/2011
    Goodman, Dicus, and Teinert, LLP
    Goodman, Dicus, and Teinert, LLP | Paul M. Teinert
    You should contact the creditor for you joint account immediately and tell them to take you off the account as a party responsible for payment. You may have to stay on the creditor to make sure this is actually done. You should also take detailed notes of all of your contact with the creditors.

    If for some reason the creditor refuses to take you off the account you can request that the account be frozen.

    Feel free to contact our office with any further questions.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/10/2011
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law
    John E. Kirchner, Attorney at Law | John Kirchner
    Any protection of your credit must be accomplished directly with your creditors and potential creditors. Whenever you file for divorce, the divorce court can only deal with issues between you and your wife and that will not be binding on the creditors. If you have not attempted to do so already, you should notify every creditor with whom you have a joint account with your wife that you will not be responsible for any future charges to that account after the date of your notice. That will not excuse you from current liability, but should prevent any additional joint debt on the account. On receipt of that notice most credit card companies will close the account, but the balance will still be owed; other creditors may do the same. If the joint auto loan is in default, your wife should have no say in allowing a repo; the lender doesn't need her consent. But, if she has been making the payments, the lender has no justification for repo whether you say so or not. If she is current in the payments, your only solution is to get the lender to let you off the loan, but the lender is not required to and probably will not do so unless your wife does a complete refinancing. One remedy in the divorce might be to force her to re-finance if she is otherwise qualified to do so.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 1/10/2011
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate
    Law Office of Curry & Westgate | Patrick Curry
    File for divorce now.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 1/10/2011
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