Remember to do These 10 Things After Your Divorce is Finalized
After your divorce is finalized, you may find yourself burying your head in the sand and not wanting to take care of important follow-up tasks. After all, you just went through an emotionally and financially challenging time, and you probably need a break! While being sure to take care of yourself physically and mentally (which may very well include a much-needed break), you should also make sure that you timely take certain steps to protect the property awarded to you so that your ex-spouse does not receive any of it, keeping in mind, of course, that you should remain in compliance with your Judgment and Marital Settlement Agreement (so if your Agreement provides otherwise, you need to make sure that you follow your Agreement in the first instance). After your divorce, make sure to take these important steps:
- Health Insurance. If you maintain health or other insurance for your ex-spouse, notify your employer or plan provider of your divorce on the date it is finalized in order to remove him or her from the policy as required.
- Retirement. Change the beneficiaries of all of your retirement accounts and plans so that your ex-spouse is not named as the beneficiary. If you and your ex-spouse are dividing any plans by Qualified Domestic Relations Order or letter of instruction, make sure that those are prepared, processed, and accepted and that you receive all funds awarded to you.
- Bank Accounts. Remove your ex-spouse from the title of all bank accounts.
- Credit Cards and Liabilities. Remove your ex-spouse as an authorized user or owner of your credit cards. Confirm you have been removed from all of your ex-spouse’s credit cards and any other liabilities so that your credit is not impacted by your ex-spouse after the divorce. This includes a mortgage if your ex-spouse is required to refinance in order to remove your name. Request written confirmation that this has been completed timely.
- Trusts and Life Insurance. If you have a trust, revise it to remove your ex-spouse as beneficiary. You should also remove your ex-spouse as the beneficiary of all of your life insurance policies unless you are required to maintain him or her individually or for the benefit of a child to secure a support or property obligation.
- Will and Estate Plan. Prepare a new will and estate plan.
- Real Property. Prepare and record any necessary quit claim deeds and other transfer documents to remove your ex-spouse from the title of any real estate awarded to you.
- Vehicles. Prepare and record any necessary documents to remove your ex-spouse’s name from the vehicle(s) awarded to you. Make sure your name is removed from any vehicle(s) awarded to your spouse. Request written confirmation that this has been completed timely.
- Support and Child Related Expenses. If you are receiving or paying support, track and keep copies of proof of payments in case a dispute arises in the future about payment. In addition, if you are required to divide any child related expenses with your ex-spouse, track, send, and keep copies of all supporting receipts and invoices.
- Agreement Follow-up Items. Review your Agreement carefully to make sure that you are completing all required tasks and remaining in full compliance with your Agreement. You should also request that your ex-spouse produce any necessary documentation to confirm he or she is in full compliance. Make sure that you receive all property that is awarded to you or that is required to be transferred to you.
You should discuss these items with your attorney to make sure you are on the same page as to what tasks, if any, the attorney is assisting you with and what tasks you are completing on your own. Once you take care of these tasks, you should feel more secure and confident moving forward that you are ready for the future!
Article by Kathryn McMahon Vivanco