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(ii) Credit

Credit. If you have joint credit cards with your spouse, you are both liable for all charges incurred on the cards. The only sure way to protect yourself against liability for further charges is to cancel the credit card. You may have seen notices in newspapers stating "John Smith is no longer for any debts incurred by Mary Smith". This is not an effective way to limit your liability. Options to limit your liability include:

a) Notifying the credit card company directly by certified mail, return receipt requested, that you wish to close your joint account;

b) Obtaining court orders regarding the use of a card and responsibility for payment. Note: such orders are effective between you and your spouse but do not bind the creditor;

c) Establishing your own credit by obtaining a credit card in your own name immediately upon filing your divorce. Sears and JC Penny are good ones to try first. Establish a credit history by using the card for several months and paying promptly at the close of each billing;

d) Learning about your debt history by finding out whether there are liens against real property that has your name and/or spouse's name on it by checking with the county recorder. For a nominal fee, you may also contact a title company and ask for a copy of liens recorded;

e) Contacting a credit bureau to get your reported credit history.

After a divorce, the Consumer Credit Protection Act of 1968 prohibits the denial of a credit card because the applicant is a single or divorced woman.

It is illegal for creditors to ask your sex, except on a loan to buy or build a home (you do not have to use Miss, Mrs. or Ms. on the application); ask or assume facts about child-bearing or birth control; discourage your application; "score" your age differently if you are over/under age sixty-two; ask if there is a telephone in your name; ask for a co-signature or any information about your ex-husband if you are creditworthy; require you to reapply on an existing account or change the terms of credit if you become divorced; refuse a loan if you are qualified; or lend you money on different terms from those granted another person with similar income, expenses, credit history and collateral.

A lender may ask if you are married, unmarried (single, divorced or widowed) or separated, but they cannot deny credit because of it.

Creditors must include as income all part-time employment, child support and maintenance payments, but are entitled to proof that the income is steady and reliable.

If credit is denied, or an account is closed, under the Equal Opportunity Act, the applicant must be notified within thirty days after the application has been completed. The notice must state the specific reason for the denial of credit or tell the applicant that they have the right to request this information.