Even if your divorce promises to be amicable and relatively smooth, you may still be eager to get it over with and move forward with your new life. Difficult as the transition may be, you have probably already spent many months dealing with the emotional upheaval, and having the arduous process finished is foremost in your mind.
However, just because you sign the documents and obtain the approval of a family court judge does not mean all the terms in your divorce settlement or court order will magically come to pass. In fact, you may be surprised to realize you still have a good bit of work to do to put it all behind you.
Getting your life in order
Your first step after the finalization of your divorce is to obtain a certified copy of the divorce decree. This document will allow you to take care of the legal and financial changes related to your divorce, beginning with changing your name, if that applies. Even if you already have a court order to officially shed your married name, you still must change it with the many organizations you deal with, such as the banks, the DMV and the Social Security Administration. Next, take care of the following:
- Choose a shared calendar or app that you and your ex can use to co-parent without frustration.
- List all the assets named in your divorce decree and identify those that require title or deed transfers to you or your ex.
- Find health insurance as quickly as possible if you were formerly covered by your spouse’s policy.
- Change the passwords to any devices or accounts your ex may have previous accessed.
- Contact a financial advisor to learn how the divorce will affect your tax returns.
- Close any joint credit and financial accounts, if you have not already done so, and start building credit by obtaining accounts in your own name.
- Contact your estate planning attorney to revise your will and other documents.
- Take an honest look at your financial situation and create a workable budget based on your new reality.
If your divorce decree includes the division of retirement accounts or pensions, you will likely need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This can be a confusing and lengthy process, one that has many opportunities for costly mistakes. When you assemble a team of people to assist you with the many complex steps you must take to complete your post-divorce work, having a skilled legal professional may relieve some of the burden.