If your divorce decree has been issued, congratulations. You have almost completed your divorce.
Almost? Yes, the decree is the final outcome of your divorce proceedings, but there are still a few pieces of business to handle. For one thing, your divorce decree is a court order and probably requires you to do certain things.
For example, it may order you to take out health insurance to cover the children, or life insurance to guarantee payment of spousal support. If it does, you should purchase this insurance immediately.
While you’re looking at insurance issues, change your beneficiaries on your life insurance policy, along with any retirement accounts, pensions, annuities, IRAs or brokerage accounts as long as it is permitted by your order. Chances are your ex is the beneficiary, and that may not be your intention any longer.
Next, update your will and estate plan to ensure that your ex is no longer the primary beneficiary. Also update any powers of attorney for financial and health care decisions.
Take your ex off the car insurance if you haven’t done so already. Also, take their name off the title to your car.
Consider refinancing the marital home to take your ex off the title and mortgage if you will be receiving the home in the divorce.
Close any joint accounts and delete your ex as an authorized purchaser on your credit cards. If you don’t close joint accounts, your ex will still have access to them.
Transfer any property required by the decree. If that includes transferring part of your pension or retirement account, submit your qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) to the plan administrator and make sure it is accepted.
Change your name if you plan to. This generally requires presenting a certified copy of your divorce decree to the Social Security Administration, the department of motor vehicles and, if you have a passport, the passport office. Once you have a new driver’s license, you can change your name on other documents and accounts.
Make arrangements to pay any child or spousal support.
Create a calendar with your parenting schedule and things you will need to coordinate with your ex.
Read your divorce decree carefully to ensure you have followed all of the orders.
The final business of a divorce can take some time and effort, but it is well worth it. Once you have completed it, you are ready to begin your new life.