The hardest part of a divorce is over once the divorce decree has been issued. However, when you end your marriage, life can change in many ways. You may need to find a new place to live, make financial adjustments, and get used to a child custody arrangement. Even when the court process is behind you, there is usually still more that must be done as you move forward into the next chapter of your life. Here is a post-divorce checklist to help you after your divorce has been finalized:
Review Your Divorce Judgment
Post-divorce it is important to review the judgment, also known as your divorce decree. There may be certain items that you and your spouse must satisfy within the month following the divorce. While the division of any retirement accounts should have been addressed during the divorce proceedings, there are typically other administrative tasks that need to be carried out — these can include retitling real estate or vehicles, selling the marital residence, and physically dividing property. If your former spouse violates the terms of the judgment, you may be entitled to file a motion for contempt with the court.
In addition, you should order a copy of a certified divorce decree. This document is the same as the decree, but with a raised seal. You may need a certified copy of your divorce decree at a later time, if you decide to change your name or remarry.
Create a Post-Divorce Budget
Divorce can have a significant financial impact, and it’s vital to map out a budget for your post-divorce life. When creating a budget, consider any credit card debt you are responsible for paying — and whether you are paying or receiving child support and alimony. You should also factor in expenses for housing, groceries, utilities, and gas — as well as create a savings account for emergencies.
Close Joint Accounts
Upon divorce, immediately close any joint bank accounts or credit cards with your former spouse. Leaving joint accounts open could potentially result in your incurring overdraft charges and liabilities. The money within any accounts should have been divided during the divorce proceedings. Open new bank accounts and credit cards in your name only.
Change Your Last Name
If you requested to resume use of your maiden name, and this is reflected in the divorce decree, you will still need to go through the administrative process to change your surname. Starting with the Social Security Administration and the DMV, make a list of the places you will need to change it. You may also need to change your name with voter registration, utility companies, financial institutions, insurance policies, your mortgage company, and on your passport.
Update Insurance Policies Post-Divorce
Many couples use the same company and agent for various insurance policies they may take out. Review your insurance policies post-divorce to determine which ones need to be updated. These may include car, home, health, and life insurance. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to purchase new policies or change the beneficiaries on the existing policies.
Obtain Health Insurance
Children’s health insurance is typically unaffected by divorce since they will remain on a parent’s policy, regardless of the custody arrangement. However, if you were covered by your spouse’s health insurance, you will no longer be eligible for these benefits once you are divorced. Although you may be eligible for coverage through COBRA, these benefits only last for 36 months. It’s important to consider other long-term health insurance options, whether through your employer, a private insurer, or Covered California.
Post-Divorce Estate Planning
Following any major life or family changes — such as a divorce — it’s critical to review your last will and testament or comprehensive estate plan to determine whether modifications are necessary. You should update beneficiary designations for your life insurance policy, retirement account, and any payable-on-death accounts. Additionally, if your former spouse is named your healthcare or financial power of attorney, these documents will need to be updated to appoint new ones.
Consult With an Accountant
Once you are divorced, you can no longer file your taxes as “married.” Your taxes may be more complex the year of your divorce. It may be beneficial to consult with an accountant to discuss tax matters to address any issues in advance and ensure you are prepared.
Change Your Passwords
If you haven’t already, it’s crucial to change all of your passwords post-divorce. Even if you didn’t share accounts with your spouse, changing your credentials can protect your privacy and give you peace of mind. Start with your computer, email, and social media passwords. Next, move on to passwords for your bank accounts, credit accounts, shopping accounts, cloud storage services, apps, and any other password-protected accounts. Make sure your new passwords are unique and cannot be guessed by your former spouse.
Contact an Experienced Fresno Divorce and Family Law Attorney
Divorce can be financially and emotionally challenging. However, having a knowledgeable divorce attorney by your side as you go through the legal proceedings can help ensure you obtain a favorable outcome in your case. Providing compassionate counsel and high-quality legal services, The Law Offices of Rick D. Banks has more than 20 years of experience helping clients throughout Fresno and the surrounding area achieve their goals. To schedule a no obligation consultation, call (559) 272-8359.