You have the final divorce decree. Now what?
A divorce decree states the terms of a divorce. The court approves the terms for the divorce based on a settlement agreement or court-ordered resolutions. Relatively quickly, the court can enter a divorce decree in an uncontested divorce, where parties agree to the terms of the divorce.
Alternatively, the court can enter a final decree based on the final disposition of the case, after the judge resolves disputes between parties over property division and child custody. Once the judge orders a divorce decree, a court clerk enters the court order into the legal record, issues a copy of the divorce decree to each party, and finalizes the divorce decree.
Before your breathe a sigh of relief and start the post-divorce celebration, you will want to make sure you attend to a few necessary matters, so make sure your financial and legal arrangements are in place for your new single life.
Even though you have received a final divorce decree and the divorce has been finalized, you and your ex still have to be sure to divide the property and assets, dispose of the marital debts, adhere to the child-custody arrangements and visitation, and comply with the court-ordered child support payments that were agreed to and spelled out in the final divorce decree.
Follow up on disposition of assets and debts and support payments.
Here is a checklist of things to follow up on to make sure all of the terms of the divorce decree are followed:
1) Divide up all property.
2) Transfer the titles of the house and car from one spouse to the other, or sell the assets and proceeds as set forth in the final divorce decree. If one spouse is keeping the house or apartment, be sure to remove the other spouse’s name from the mortgage or lease.
3) As set forth in the divorce decree, any loans or debts that are not your responsibility need to have your name removed from them.
4) Make sure you child support or spousal support payments are set up to be automatically deposited to your account, or the account of the spouse due to receive them according to the court order.
Update and revise documents and financial arrangements.
In order to get on with your life, there are certain legal and financial matters you do need to attend to now that you are single. It is a good idea to:
1) Update all legal records, insurance records, and financial accounts.
Remove your married name and change it to your newly single name. Any financial accounts and/or credit cards that were in your joint names should be closed, and new ones opened in your new single name.
2) Contact any financial institutions or credit card companies that you hold loans with, and close any accounts that were jointly held with your ex. Then convert the ones that only apply to you into your new single name.
3) If you have moved, notify all creditors, financial institutions, and insurance companies of your new address. And do not forget to change the address on your checks and credit cards.
4) Get a new driver’s license with your new single name and your new address on it. Also notify Social Security of your name and address changes.
5) After you have contacted your creditors, be sure to check your credit report, and make sure it now reflects which accounts are jointly held with your spouse.
6) Revise your will, or draft a new one to remove your ex as a beneficiary and designate new beneficiaries.
7) Review all of your assets, such as your life insurance policies, financial annuities, 401K plans, and investment accounts. Remove your ex as a beneficiary, and designate a new beneficiary.
Sometimes, the final divorce decree may need to be modified. The spouse responsible for support payments may lose their job, have to take a lower-paying job, or have to take a job in another geographic location, which could require lower payments, changes in visitation agreements, or some other modifications to the final divorce decree. In the event of such circumstances, you should contact your attorney to draft the modification to the divorce decree, who can advise you about the steps you should take.