The divorce is final. Now what?
The act of getting married creates lots of legal consequences on its own. In addition, people often create additional legal ties during their marriage. Some of these connections are not automatically broken when you get that divorce decree.
Here is a list of things you should do after your divorce:
- Close all joint accounts, unless you and you ex agree to keep an account open for kids’ expenses
- Remove your ex as an authorized user on your bank accounts
- Remove your ex as the pay on death (POD) beneficiary on your accounts
- Designate a parent instead
- Designate the Trustee named in your post divorce estate plan, or
- Designate no one
Order your free credit reports. You may have done this while your divorce was pending, but if you didn’t, then do it now. It is important to identify all you open credit accounts.
Thieves are not the only people that may use your identity to obtain credit. Your ex may have done it too. After all, they usually know all your personal info and data.
Once you have a complete list of your credit accounts, go through each category, and clean things up.
- Remove your ex as an authorized user on all of your accounts
- Do not charge anything on your ex’s cards
- Close all joint accounts
- If you can’t close a joint account, then see if you can “freeze” the account, so nothing else can be charged
- Don not charge anything to joint accounts
- Pay off any credit card debt that you were ordered to pay
- Use your savings if you have it, or
- Transfer the balance to another card, or to a new card in your name alone
Mortgages and Other Loans
- Monitor payments on joint loans assigned to your ex, so you can take action if he or she doesn’t make the payment
- Pay all loans assigned to you on time
- try to pay them off, or
- refinance them solely into your name, as soon as possible
If you were awarded any real property, get the deed into your name
- Get new titles for all vehicles awarded to you, with you as sole owner
- Make sure your spouse gets new titles for vehicles awarded to them, with them as sole owner (so you are not liable)
- Pay off the loans on vehicles awarded to you as soon as possible, so that you can put the titles solely in your own name
Married people usually have various insurance policies insuring both of them, or naming each other as beneficiaries in case of death. These policies need to get sorted out.
- If your ex was insured through your work, inform your employer when the divorce is final.
- Do not tell the insurance company to stop covering your ex. Let them do that on their own.
- If you were covered through your ex’s work, your coverage will almost certainly stop at the end of the month in which your divorce was final
- Consider taking COBRA coverage until you can get your own coverage
- Get your own coverage as soon as possible
Remove your spouse as an insured on all vehicles awarded to you, after the title is in your name
Remove your ex-spouse as an authorized driver of vehicles awarded to you, after the title is in your name
Make sure Monitor the insurance policy on all vehicles awarded to your spouse, until you are no longer on the title, so that you can take action if policy is not paid
Contact your work’s HR department and change the beneficiary on all work related life insurance policies
Change the beneficiary on all other life insurance policies that you may have
Contact your HR department at work, and change the beneficiary on your retirement, 401k, 457 and other deferred compensation plan accounts
Inform them if any portion of such accounts were awarded to your spouse in your decree
If you were awarded a portion of your spouse’s retirement, 401k or other such accounts, contact your spouse’s employer and ask them for the procedure to get those things set over to you, or contact us for help with that
If investment accounts were split by the divorce, separate the accounts as soon as possible
Change the beneficiary on your accounts
If you were awarded a portion of your ex’s account, contact the investment company to find out how to get your portion set over to you.
If you have a will or trust, consider revising them
If you and your ex have minor children:
Make a will or trust, if you don’t want your ex to control your money in the event of your death
Amend your existing estate plan for the same reason
The above list is a good starting point for reviewing your legal situation after your divorce. However, each person’s situation is different. The important thing is that you give these things some thought and attention after your divorce is final.
By Steve Harton