Most people think that after a divorced couple reaches a settlement and the official divorce court order is signed by a judge that everything is finalized. However, in almost one-hundred percent of divorce cases, that is just not true. Typically, after a divorce hearing or settlement, there is a lot of other tasks to complete and, they are at times, the most important things in the case that have to be dealt with. If they are not handled immediately, bad things can happen. If you have a lawyer, they should talk about these issues with you and let you know what you are responsible for and what they are responsible for. You and your lawyer need to work together to ensure that everything is taken care of in order to avoid further complications. I will be sharing with you some tasks that you need to complete after your divorce, including getting a copy of your divorce decree.
1) Obtain a Copy of Your Divorce Decree– Not every jurisdiction immediately distributes a divorce decree when they decide how your property will be distributed or how much alimony will be paid. Certain jurisdictions will make you file other paperwork before you are allowed to get a copy of your divorce court order. The next thing you need to take care of is property deeds.
- Transfer property – If part of your divorce includes transferring a piece of property, the title to the property needs to be transferred also. When this is going to take place, someone needs to make this paperwork for you. Then it needs to be signed and filed with the appropriate recording office of the jurisdiction where the property is at at the time. You and your former spouse also need to get the title transfer paperwork signed by a notary.
- Change Current Beneficiaries– Your beneficiaries will more than likely need to be changed like for any life insurance policies you have and any benefits you will get after you retire. You will also want to rewrite any estates or trusts that you have set up for your family so that your children or other family members will be the beneficiaries of everything that you have worked so hard your whole life to get. You have done a lot to keep your assets away from your ex-wife during your divorce proceedings, therefore you need to ensure that your children are the beneficiaries of your insurance policies instead of your ex.
- Close Joint Accounts– If you and your ex still have joint accounts open, they need to be closed as soon as possible after your divorce is final. The best idea is to have this taken care of when the property is doled out, but if they are still open, they need to be closed right away. After you close your joint accounts, you need to get your ex off of your health insurance policy.
- Take Your ex Off Your Insurance Policy- If you had your ex-spouse covered under your insurance policy, you will need to send in a copy of your divorce court order to your benefits office or health insurance company, so they will know that you are divorced. The next step is for you to get a qualified domestic relations order.
- Obtain a Qualified Domestic Relations Order– A qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) is the document that is used to transfer retirement assets from one person to the next after their divorce is final. You may have an agreement regarding your settlement or a court order that states that your spouse gets part of your 401K or pension. If one of these documents is not actually prepared, signed by an officer of the court, filed with the courts, and given to the person in charge of your retirement account, then the transfer of funds will not take place. This type of document is one of the most common post-divorce housekeeping items that are not completed. This can be very important if you will be the one receiving the assets.
- Create an Estate Plan– After a divorce, people do not think about making a new plan for your estate. If there is not a plan in place for your estate, you need to get one. If you have a plan like this in place, you need to change to ensure that your ex-spouse is no longer the beneficiary. As a single person, you may also have to do other estate planning. It is a good idea to meet with a lawyer that specializes in estate planning or a person that has experience in estate planning, so they can properly advise you on how to handle these problems. You must keep in mind that until these housekeeping items are taken care of (as well as maybe a few others), your divorce case is not complete. Your lawyer needs to make sure that these issues are being taken care of. However, if they do not, then you are responsible for following up with your attorney to ensure that these issues are being taken care of.
There you have it, a post-divorce checklist for single fathers, and this checklist (if completed) will ensure that you have done all that you need to do during the process of your divorce.