Many men and women find themselves in debt after divorce. If you didn't have much money when you were married, half of not very much is even less but with a bit of discipline you can sort yourself out.
Top tips for dealing with debt after divorce
If you are out of work or unable to get a job because you have young children to look after or have a long term health problem, check that you are receiving all the benefits and help that are due to you. Mortgage payments may be covered by insurance – for a time at least - and help with rent and Council Tax may be available.
Take a deep breath and open all letters from creditors or the courts as soon as you receive them. Leaving them in the 'Too Difficult' pile is not the way to go.
Prioritise your debts
Keeping a roo over your head is the number one priority. Paying your mortgage is more important than repaying store cards for example. Make sure that utilities are paid so that you avoid the possibility of disconnection.
Tell people you owe money to about your situation
Phone or write to everyone who is owed money and explain your difficulties to them and what you are trying to do. Thereafter keep them up to date with what is happening. Paying them what may appear an insignificant amount regularly is better than not paying them anything at all or being unrealistic about the level of installments.
Be persistent about coming to an arrangement that suits you and is sustainable. It's your life after divorce and you need to take control of it.
Make sure you that what you owe is correct
Check that you are actually liable for the debts that are being ascribed to you. If someone has added your name to an agreement without your permission they may be guilty of fraud. In this instance you will need legal advice. Likewise if you have been forced into signing a credit agreement under pressure from someone else you may not be liable for that debt but again, you will need to take advice from a solicitor.
Keep all your documents organised and in one place and have a separate folder or envelope for each creditor, making sure that you keep copies of all correspondence that you send. Log any phone calls you have made to, or received from, anyone to whom you owe money, with the date and the name of the person you spoke to.
Keep good records especially of verbal agreements
Write down an outline of any verbal agreement you may have reached. It is easy to forget what has been said or to become confused over who said what when you are dealing with several different organisations.
A last word
Remember. How you deal with your finances now will affect you for years to come. It is vitally important that you fully understand the implications of any decisions you take now about your debts and make the best choices available to you.
Help is out there at the touch of a few buttons on your computer or by picking up the phone. Use it. Do it. Now.
The Department of Work and Pensions deals with benefits.
Child Support Agency - for people with children.
We can help you to find an Independent Financial Adviser.
FCA – Financial Conduct Authority - the government watchdog for the financial services industry.