It’s easy to think that once you receive your divorce judgment, you are completely done. However, this is usually not the case. Especially financially, there are some things most people need to do post divorce.
Here are some important things to do when you receive the judgment document:
- Read through it and make note of the specific things each party is supposed to do.
- Keep the judgment in a safe place where you can easily find it and refer to it in the future.
Post Divorce Actions to Take
Then soon after the divorce is final, some or all of the following will usually need to be done:
1. Make sure title is correct on all real estate. Often one of you is to come off the title according to the divorce. Or title may need to be transferred from one of you to the other. If you are going to continue to own real estate jointly and you purchased it as a married couple, you will need to retitle the deed to reflect your new status as non-married.
2. If one of you is to be removed from a mortgage, make sure this is done. Often this requires a refinance of a mortgage that was in both your names.
3. Make sure title and registration is correct on all vehicles. Changes will need to be made through the DMV. Notify your vehicle insurer of any changes.
4. Open up bank accounts and obtain credit cards in your name only. Close joint accounts and credit cards or change the account holder so they are only in one name.
5. Change your beneficiary designations on the following account types:
- Retirement accounts such as IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, pensions and annuities;
- Brokerage investment accounts;
- Life insurance policies.
6. For each retirement account (other than IRAs) being divided or transferred, make sure a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is signed by the judge, served on the retirement plan administrator and executed by the administrator. Otherwise the account will not be divided or transferred. This is often a fairly lengthy process that needs to be monitored so it gets completed.
7. Update your will and/or any trust which specifies who will receive your property after you die.
8. This is also a good time to update your health care proxy and power of attorney, which go into effect if you become unable to make medical or financial decisions for yourself.
9. Obtain or change life insurance if required by the judgment.
10. If you are changing your name pursuant to the divorce, take a certified copy of the judgment to accomplish the change to a local Social Security office, the DMV and a passport office. Once this is done, it should be fairly easy to change your name on other accounts and insurance policies.