Once your divorce is approved by the court, a divorce decree will be issued. This is the finalization of your divorce and a court order that needs to be followed.
Take a deep breath and a sigh of relief. Your divorce is final.
Before you put it all behind you, though, there are a few things that still need to be taken care of. Your divorce decree probably spells out a few things you are required to do, and these need to be taken care of right away. Moreover, there are changes you will need to make to some other aspects of your life.
Here are a few steps to take after your divorce decree is issued:
Change your beneficiaries and estate plan. Your life insurance policy, 401(k) plan, other retirement plans and the like all have beneficiaries assigned. Chances are, you assigned your spouse. It’s time to take their name off of these documents and replace it with a new beneficiary. At the same time, it is important to update your will or estate plan to reflect your divorce. You may need a new person to authorize as your financial or medical power of attorney, too.
Transfer any required property. If you will be transferring property to your ex as part of the divorce order, you should not wait to make these transfers. If you are transferring all or part of a pension or retirement account, you should have a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) that meets the pension or retirement account’s requirements. Present the QDRO to the plan and order the division.
Buy any required insurance. Your divorce decree may require you to by health insurance for your children or to carry life insurance with your ex or children as the beneficiary. If it does, purchase this insurance as soon as possible.
Untangle your joint accounts. If you have a joint checking, savings or credit card account with your ex, now is the time to close it and open new accounts in your own name. Also, remove your ex as an authorized user on any of your solo accounts.
Take your ex’s name off the titles to your car and house. Unfortunately, a divorce does not automatically relieve one person of responsibility for debts that were taken out during the marriage. Therefore, you may have to refinance in order to get your ex’s name off the mortgage and house title, or the title to your vehicle.
Make arrangements for child support and alimony. If you will be paying these, you may be required to deposit them directly or to make other concrete arrangements to ensure they are always paid. Set this up immediately.
If changing your name, get a certified copy of your divorce decree and send it to the Social Security Administration, the Motor Vehicle Office and the State Department, if you have a passport. Once you have changed your name on these documents, it will be relatively easy to change other identifications.
Once you have taken care of these important housekeeping items, you are completely finished with the business of your divorce.