Divorce can be tough enough without having to deal with the effects of a ruined credit rating. The most common scenario is that the judge assigns joint accounts to one spouse in the divorce decree. The other spouse figures they are off the hook. But the divorce decree does not erase the original contract with the creditor. Joint accounts can still be reported on your credit report – seven years for negative information and indefinitely for positive information.

Think about it. Most creditors would much rather have two people to collect from than one, so they are unwilling to remove a spouse from a cosigned account. But some consumers have been successful in persuading creditors to remove from their credit reports accounts that were assigned to their ex’s in divorce. It doesn’t hurt to try. The exception? If your ex is currently behind on one of the joint accounts, contacting the creditor or collection agency could mean they’ll start coming after you.

For more information on this, please read my book The ABCs of Getting Out of Debt.