What to Do After Your Divorce is Finalized
It can be easy to think that once a settlement is reached or a judge finalizes a divorce order, the entire divorce process is finished. After all, the end is the end, right? Not necessarily.
On all levels, a divorce is going to shake-up your life and can reverse some fundamental habits. With so many ways a divorce can impact all branches of your life, it should not be a surprise to find that it isn’t completely over when the divorce agreement becomes final. There will still be a handful of things that you’ll want to take care of before you finally sit down, relax, and look forward to the next chapter in your life.
Here is a quick list of a few things you’ll want to handle now that your divorce is done:
- Transfer assets: Does your settlement agreement or judgement call for one person to receive or keep a certain asset or debt? Just because the court ordered it so does not mean it will be done automatically. You will need to arrange for any titles to be transferred or names to be removed where needed.
- Update estate plans: Under California law, a divorce is grounds for the cancelation of the other spouse or domestic partner’s rights under a will, trust, estate plan, or other similar document. However, once again, it does not happen automatically. Now that you’re officially divorced, you’ll need to update your estate plan documents to ensure that they reflect your current wishes. That is to say, write your ex-spouse out of your will, unless you are really committed to keeping them in there.
- Rename beneficiaries: Other than your estate plan, where else is your ex-spouse likely named right now? Look at your insurance policies, pensions, retirement plans, and other programs that require you to name beneficiaries. Odds are you will want to update them to remove Mr. or Mrs. Ex-Spouse and maybe include a trusted family member instead. If you don’t want to name any beneficiaries, the state may intervene and decide where the benefits are used in the case of a payout.
- Separate bank accounts: Many people open new bank accounts or credit card lines with their spouses after they get married. You should make sure any of these joint accounts are closed or the appropriate spouse is removed after your divorce. Open new accounts in just your name where necessary. Also, make sure that all your automatic deposits and payments are set for the correct accounts. It will be difficult to fix any transfer errors after the fact.
- Change your name: Most people choose to revert to a previous name after a divorce, especially women who dropped their maiden names. If you did change your name as part of your divorce, you will have to update a myriad of accounts and official registrations to reflect the change. Consider your driver’s license, social security information, passport, voter registration, bank account registries, retirement plans, insurance policies, and more, and make changes where needed. While you’re at it, double-check all your mailing addresses for these groups and associations as well.
This list is a good starting point to show what you need to do post-divorce, but it is in no way 100% comprehensive. Each divorce will have different things to manage and concerns to address depending on its unique circumstances. For example, if you have children, there will be many more checkmarks on your list that we didn’t even touch upon here – consider updating school contact information and setting up child support, just to name two.
Do you need help finishing your divorce? How about getting settled now that your divorce is done? Contact Romanovska Law and our multilingual San Francisco divorce attorney – she also speaks Russian and German, and holds an in-depth understanding of international divorce laws. Start your case with a free 20-minute consultation!