Although there are no more court hearings to attend or lawyers to meet with now that your divorce has been finalized, there are several things you need to still take care of until you can start rebuilding your life.
If you recently divorced your spouse, the following is a post-divorce checklist to avoid future headaches:
- Review your divorce agreement – Go over your divorce decree multiple times and create a checklist of things you still need to do. For example, if you are ordered to pay alimony or child support, create a calendar to make sure you don’t miss payments and create a financial plan which includes those new expenses. Ensure all everything is accomplished within a month or so. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call your attorney.
- Change your name – If you wish to change your name back to your maiden name, you must bring a certified copy of the divorce agreement to the office. Accepted forms of ID include your driver’s license and passport. Once that is done, ensure the DMV, banks, credit card companies, bills, retirement accounts, insurance, voter registration, and even your work knows about the change.
- Make changes to real estate and other property – If you are required to execute to a quitclaim deed or transfer the title of a vehicle, ensure these are complete. A quitclaim deed transfers the ownership of the property and interest—not the mortgage. If you wish to remove your ex-spouse’s name from the mortgage, you must re-qualify or refinance with the mortgage company. Car titles are much simpler to handle. Just contact the car loan company and see what needs to be done. Once you change the vehicle title, next would be the registration and car insurance policy.
- Close joint accounts – Close any joint bank accounts you share with your ex-spouse, open a new separate one, and make sure your ex-spouse is no longer listed as a beneficiary. When you open a new credit card under your own name, start building your credit score by making small purchases.
- Remove your ex-spouse’s name on your insurance policies – If your ex-spouse receives medical coverage from your employer’s health insurance, you can remove his/her name by meeting with your HR. If you have life insurance, change the beneficiary of the policy.
- Reevaluate your retirement goals – When your 401(k) or IRA retirement account is subject to division, you will need to a Qualified Domestic Retirement Order (QDRO) to complete the transfer. Your attorney can file one for you.
- Create a new estate plan – If you have a valid will, trust, power of attorney directive, or health care directive, you need to remove your ex-spouse’s name and potential edit each detail of these estate planning tools.
- Consider the tax changes – Now that you no longer claim to be married on your taxes, the year of your divorce can be quite complex. You must speak with your accountant or your financial advisor on how to ease the tax burden.
Once everything on your checklist is complete, you can finally breathe a sigh of relief and begin the healing process.