Divorce 101

Navigating Credit and Divorce

Written by Russell Alexander ria@russellalexander.com / (905) 655-6335

The impact of divorce extends beyond the personal and emotional, deeply influencing financial matters, especially where credit cards are concerned. Addressing joint credit accounts early in the divorce process is critical for a seamless transition to managing credit solo. This article delves into practical steps for handling credit card debt and rewards amidst a divorce, aiming to ensure your financial health remains intact.

Audit Your Credit Card Accounts

Understanding the extent of your credit card obligations is a crucial first step. Regina McCann Hess, a certified financial planner and divorce analyst, emphasizes that debts and rewards from these accounts are often central in negotiations. Canadians can obtain a comprehensive view of their credit obligations by requesting reports from national credit agencies such as Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada. These reports detail all credit card and loan accounts, providing up-to-date balances and account statuses.

Securing Your Credit

The ramifications of divorce on your credit scores can be significant, especially if you find yourself removed as an authorized user from accounts that have been consistently paid on time. Proactively applying for a new credit card in your own name before divorce proceedings can protect your credit standing. This new account, when managed correctly, serves as a foundation for demonstrating financial responsibility and maintaining a solid credit score.

Managing Rewards

Credit card rewards, much like the accounts themselves, are seen as marital assets. The allocation of these rewards may require negotiation, with options including transferring rewards to one party or redeeming them prior to account separation.

David W. Cahill, Divorce Lawyer & Mediator

Familiarize yourself with your credit card issuer’s policies on reward transfers and redemptions to make informed decisions during this process.

Removing Spouses from Credit Card Accounts

Jointly owned credit card accounts necessitate clear decisions post-divorce. Since both parties are liable for any debt incurred, it’s imperative to either close these accounts or transfer the balance. For accounts where one spouse is an authorized user, removing this individual prevents future unauthorized charges. Consider updating account numbers for an added layer of financial security following the divorce.

Communication Is Key

Effective communication about credit and debt is essential during a divorce. Providing your spouse with timely notice about changes to credit accounts facilitates a smoother financial separation and minimizes potential conflicts.


Divorce requires careful consideration of shared financial responsibilities, particularly credit card accounts. By auditing your accounts, securing new credit in your name, managing rewards wisely, and adjusting account ownership as needed, you can protect your financial future. For Canadians looking to understand more about their credit scores and financial health, resources are available through Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada, offering insights and guidance for navigating credit responsibly during and after a divorce.

Stay in Touch

Keep learning about the latest issues in Ontario family law! Subscribe to our newsletter, have our latest articles delivered to your inbox, or listen to our Podcast Family Law Now.

Be sure to find out more about the "new normal", by visiting our Covid-19 and Divorce Information Centre.

About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.