One trick some domestic abusers use to prevent victims from leaving the relationships is to damage the individuals' credit and saddle them with debt. The abuser may open accounts in the victim's name or use threats of violence to force the person to take out loans and credit cards the abuser uses and then doesn't repay. Regardless of how the debt comes about, you could potentially be stuck with thousands of dollars of debt when you finally leave the person. Here are a few things you can do to ensure your ex is held liable for the fraudulent or coerced debt when you finally divorce.
Create a Legal Trail
If your ex stole your identity and opened accounts in your name, the first thing you must do is file a report with the police. This can benefit you in a couple of ways. First, a police report can help you show the judge you did not authorize your ex to use your information to get loans and credit cards, thus strengthening your claim that he or she should be responsible for that debt.
Second, creditors will typically remove the fraudulent accounts from your credit report after you have filed a complaint with the police. Thus, this can quickly help you improve your credit score so you can move forward with your life.
Proving your ex forced you to obtain loans and credit may be a little more challenging. You'll have to show your ex exerted a tremendous amount of influence over you, enough to motivate you to open the accounts to avoid being hurt. Providing evidence you were a victim of domestic violence (e.g. medical records, police reports) can go a long way towards showing you opened the account under duress.
Include the Right Stipulations
If the court will assign the fraudulent or coerced debt to your ex, it's critical you include a stipulation in your divorce agreement that your ex transfer the accounts in your name to his or her name and to remove your name from joint accounts you have opened together that you are not financially responsible for. This will prevent your ex from damaging your credit further and stop creditors from coming after you for the money if your ex chooses to stop paying the debt.
Once you've completely separated from your abusive ex-spouse, you may want to petition the Social Security Administration to assign you a new SSN if your ex used your old one to open fraudulent accounts. This can help you obtain a fresh start and stop your ex from stealing your identity again in the future. For more information about this and other issues related to separating from an abuser, contact a divorce attorney or go here for additional reading.