If you're a current or former member of the armed forces who holds a security clearance, you likely try to avoid behaviors that could jeopardize this clearance (and often, your job). Being arrested for driving under the influence or being late on your taxes could be enough to have your clearance stripped. However, the way you handle credit can also have a big impact on your clearance as well. If you're married to a spouse who can't stop spending, you could find your clearance in trouble, even if you've been responsible with credit yourself. Can filing for divorce from a spendthrift spouse help protect your security clearance? Read on to learn more about the factors that go into granting your clearance, as well as the potential effects of credit card debt on your clearance.

What factors go into the granting of a security clearance?

To be granted a security clearance, you must be able to show that you're trustworthy and able to handle confidential information without worry of a potential breach. Although a security clearance doesn't grant you access to anything specific in and of itself, it can allow you to qualify for higher-level employment or command a higher salary for your ability to be trusted with sensitive information. Acting with poor judgment could indicate an inability to hold on to this sensitive information, or make you more susceptible to potential blackmail. Credit woes in particular may have a big impact on your clearance, as they could demonstrate both errors in judgment (by overspending or mismanaging funds) and a lack of responsibility.

If you already have a security clearance and think you don't need to worry about excessive debt, think again -- these clearances must be renewed regularly, and when your credit report is pulled and shows multiple unpaid debts, evictions, or other derogatory marks, you could find yourself in trouble.

When can divorce help you keep your security clearance?

In some cases, it may be your spouse's credit -- not your own -- that is in hot water. However, being married to someone who mismanages funds may be treated no differently by those granting your clearance than if you had taken out the debt yourself. If you don't feel there's any way your spouse will be able to get a handle on his or her overspending, divorce may be your safest option. By divorcing, you'll be able to legally and formally extricate yourself from your spouse's credit woes. You'll want to consult with an attorney like Karen Robins Carnegie PLC who is experienced in military divorces to ensure that your rights are fully protected during the process.