It's Not Over Until It's Over: After The Divorce
Once a divorce is over, most clients want to put this part of their life behind them.
However, chances are that you still have some work to do to tie up those loose ends. So before you move on with your life, below are just a few examples of some lingering matters that should be taken care of now—not later.
Your Divorce Settlement Agreement and Keep It In a Safe Place.
1. Review Your Divorce Settlement Agreement and Keep It In a Safe Place. A Final Judgment of Divorce is the legal document which states that you are no longer married. If you reached a settlement, a Marital Settlement Agreement (“MSA”) attached to your Judgment is essentially a Court Order and sets forth any applicable details concerning custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, and distribution of property. Take time to carefully review your MSA and keep it in a safe place where you can refer to it as needed.
Make New Deeds for any Real Estate.
Never hesitate to transfer title to real estate that was owned during the marriage. Neglecting to do so could haunt you if and when you go to sell the property or in the event of a default on a mortgage or foreclosure action. If a property remains in both parties’ names, any liens or judgments against one spouse will affect both, even if the MSA states that ownership of the property was to be transferred to the party. Your MSA and any agreement you made with your ex-spouse does not relieve you from financial obligation to a mortgage lender.
Automobile and Other Insurances.
Contact your insurance company to confirm that the vehicle you are driving is properly insured, and that you are the sole owner of the insurance policy. If you do not live in the same household and are divorced, you must obtain your own auto insurance policy. After your divorce is final, meet with your insurance agent to review all of your policies, get them in order, and change any beneficiaries.
Dividing Retirement Assets.
If you have a pension, 401(k) or other retirement asset, chances are you will need a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to divide the marital portion of
this asset. Some divorce attorneys exclude this service in their retainer agreement and you should be sure to double check whether this is covered by your divorce retainer agreement, or whether other arrangements will need to be made.
Double Check that Your Mortgage has Been Refinanced.
When one spouse retains the marital home, it may be necessary to refinance the mortgage to remove the other party’s name from the debt. You should obtain, in writing, from the lender that you have been removed from
the mortgage and no longer responsible for payments. Be sure to obtain a copy of the discharge that the bank will have to file with the County Clerk.
Close Any Joint Bank and Credit Card Accounts.
Separate bank accounts pursuant to the MSA and close them. Either pay off or close joint credit card accounts. If your ex-spouse is required to make payments for a joint credit card, always call the credit card company to confirm that your ex-spouse has been making timely payments to avoid affecting your credit.
Update Your Estate Plan.
Do not waste time before updating your Last Will & Testament after your divorce is final. Also, if you gave your ex-spouse a power of attorney,
make certain it is revoked and never allow them to retain original copies of power of attorneys.
Most clients breathe a sigh of relief when their divorce is finalized. Yet, in the first few months following your divorce, it is critical that you tie up any remaining loose ends to prevent problems before they occur.