Single parents facing unique credit card debt challenges

Being a single parent is almost always financially tougher than making ends meet with a partner. Despite Mississippi's relatively low cost of living, the economy is still far from fully recovered. At the same time, divorces and separations that happen, regardless of economic circumstances, can certainly have an economic impact. Pew Research has noted that there were 8.6 million single mothers who were acting as the sole or primary earner in their families in 2011.

While not as high, the number of single dads in the same time frame was around 2.6 million. Suddenly faced with paying the bills alone, many of today's millions of single parents understandably turn to credit cards to help confront their newfound financial challenges. With increased credit card reliance comes credit card debt; however, single parents often face a tougher climb out of debt than their married counterparts.

If single parents rack up credit card debt, even for an understandable reason such as food or gas, the results can be debilitating. For example, single parents must qualify for loans on their own, without the benefit of a spouse's income or a former partner's good credit score. At the same time, a single parent may need loans even more than someone who is married or living with a partner. Post-divorce or after a breakup, credit can be necessary for securing an apartment, getting one's own car or eventually purchasing a new home. Credit may even be needed at times for setting up utilities in one's own name.

For single parents who shared joint accounts with the other parent, their credit scores can be dented by the other account holder's not keeping up their end of the bargain. In addition, many potential creditors can review an applicant's history of making timely child support payments to help determine creditworthiness. However, it's important to note that they aren't able to discriminate against an applicant based on their income coming from alimony or child support. One can learn more about applicable laws by speaking with a local bankruptcy attorney.

Source: WXYZ Detroit, "The credit dangers single parents face," Gerri Detweiler, July 23, 2014

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