Can I Check My Spouse’s Credit During Divorce?
For many Florida couples, marriage involves sharing finances and, perhaps, even creating a shared credit history. In fact, simply buying a car or a house with a spouse typically means that the couple now has a shared credit history.
If spouses with a shared credit history begin the process of a divorce, it may be natural for one or both parties to assume that they have a right to check their spouse’s credit history. Not only is this assumption untrue, checking a spouse’s credit history during divorce can lead to significant legal trouble.
Federal Regulations Prevent Married Individuals From Checking a Spouse’s Personal Credit Report
There are many reasons why a spouse may want to check a spouse’s credit during divorce. One of the more common reasons is typically a spouse’s suspicion that their former partner is hiding bank accounts, credit cards or similar financial information. In too many instances, such suspicions are well-founded, as a recent CreditCards.com survey found that approximately 7 million Americans hide financial information from a spouse or partner.
However, these findings or any other reason is not a proper justification for accessing a spouse’s credit report or history without their permission. The Fair Reporting Act is a federal regulation that says you need to have a “permissible purpose” to request a consumer’s credit report. Common people or entities that have a permissible purpose for making such a request include:
Divorce is not a “permissible purpose.” In fact, even a married spouse with no intention of divorce is still not permitted to check a spouse’s credit.
A Spouse May Be Able to Check a Spouse’s Business Credit If the Spouse Owns a Small Business
Interestingly, however, there is an exception to this broad rule if a spouse owns a small business. Small business credit reports and scores are not regulated by the aforementioned Fair Credit Reporting Act Standard, meaning a spouse can check the credit reports and scores of a spouse’s business during divorce.
A Florida Family Lawyer Can Help You Obtain Credit Information Lawfully
In the vast majority of marriages, however, a spouse’s credit is personal in nature. Online access to credit reports may make it tempting to snoop, but the legal ramifications of such behavior can be severe. Fraud or identity charges can result, which can negatively affect your divorce and jeopardize your freedom.
If you wish to access a spouse’s credit report without permission, the best way to do that is with the help of a Florida family law attorney who will protect your legal interests in divorce. A subpoena or court order can still provide you with the information you seek, albeit without breaking the law and harming your legal interests in a divorce.
If you have questions for a Tampa divorce lawyer, or are unaware of the terms and conditions of a Tampa divorce, talk to, and retain, a family law attorney who can help. Contact Damien McKinney of The McKinney Law Group to discuss your case further. He can be reached by phone at 813-428-3400 or by e-mail at [email protected]