Some people mistakenly believe that once the Judgment of Divorce is entered there are no further steps to take post-divorce. That is not true. After your divorce is finalized, make sure you take the following steps to complete the divorce process. Divorce Attorney Linda S. Vanden Heuvel provides this post-divorce checklist to guide you:
- Obtain a certified copy of your Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Judgment of Divorce with all attachments.
- If you are returning to your maiden name, change your driver’s license, social security card, vehicle titles and registration, insurance policies, employment records, credit cards, tax records, voter records, passport and more.
- Update the post office with your correct name and address.
- Update beneficiaries on any retirement accounts, pension plans, bank accounts, security accounts, other monetary accounts and life insurance policies.
- Prepare and sign any required Quit Claim Deeds or Transfer Returns on real property.
- Transfer title to any automobiles, ATVs, boats, etc.
- Remove your ex-spouse’s name from any jointly-held accounts and close those joint accounts.
- Order new checks with your name and address on those checks.
- Order a copy of your credit reports from all three reporting agencies: Transunion,
Equifaxand Experian. Take the time to make any corrections necessary on the credit reports.
- Update and change all passwords on any online accounts and your electronic devices (iPad, iPhone, iPod, Kindle, desktop computer, etc.).
- Create a new will, trust, power of attorney for health care and general power of attorney. Designate new personal representatives, executors or trustees, as needed.
- If you are receiving support, set up a mechanism to track all payments received. If you are paying support, set up a mechanism for all payments submitted.
- Check into the Affordable Care Act, COBRA or other necessary health and dental insurance options.
- Consider whether or not you should obtain more life insurance.
- Review the Marital Settlement Agreement and Judgment of Divorce for any obligations contained within the documents. Make sure the documents are correct and that you have taken all necessary steps to complete the requirements of the documents. If your ex-spouse has not done so, contact your divorce attorney to address compliance.
- If there are personal items to be exchanged between you and your ex-spouse, make sure the transfer is completed.
- Contact your automobile insurance company and make sure the vehicle you are driving is properly insured and titled.
- Update your W-4 which addresses the exemptions taken for payroll purposes.
- If you and your ex-spouse have divided retirement or pension accounts, confirm that the division has actually occurred. You may need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. It is imperative that you make sure that the Qualified Domestic Relations Order gets entered so that you are protected and the accounts are divided as set forth in the Judgment of Divorce.
- If your ex-spouse was ordered to pay marital debt, have those debts transferred into your ex-spouse’s name, if possible. Notify the creditors of the terms of the Judgment of Divorce so that they are aware of the obligation. While the creditor may still look to you for payment, notification to creditors is a step in the right direction.
- If you have an obligation to refinance the residence, immediately consult with your mortgage broker or banker to complete that process.
Addressing the items in this checklist will assist you in a successful resolution of your divorce. Best wishes on the road ahead.