Post Divorce Checklist
Now that your divorce has been finalized, what's next? There's nothing wrong with breathing a sigh of relief that the emotional ordeal you've just experienced is finally behind you. However, while you're standing at the starting line of your life's next chapter, you still have a few critical things to consider.
Tying up loose ends is never fun, but overlooking some of these things could be inconvenient and costly down the road. Here is a post-divorce checklist divided into three main categories to keep you organized.
Personal Post-Divorce Checklist
There are some basic items you'll want to take care of as soon as possible after your divorce. You may even be able to tackle a few of them a bit earlier.
1. Review Your Divorce Decree
The first thing you'll want to do is sit down with an official copy of your divorce decree and review it thoroughly. This document contains all the terms of your divorce, including property division, debt/liability allocation, financial support, and, if applicable, child custody arrangements. It's critical that you understand your rights and responsibilities as spelled out in this agreement.
2. Restrict Access
If you haven't already done this, change all of your passwords and PINs to something your ex won't be able to figure out. And, if you're still living in the marital home, get the locks changed and reprogram the garage door opener.
3. Change Your Last Name
You may have requested to revert back to your maiden name as part of your divorce. Even if you did, you'd still need to contact various organizations, like the Social Security Administration, DMV, and other businesses, to have them change your name.
Financial Post-Divorce Checklist
When you separate households, you know that there are financial matters to consider. Here is a financial post-divorce checklist to help you cover the most important bases.
1. Close Joint Bank Accounts and Credit Cards
If you and your ex still have joint financial accounts, it's time to close them. Joint bank accounts and credit cards need to be closed so you can open new ones in your name only.
2. Update Your Beneficiaries
If something happens to you, it's important that your assets get distributed properly. In most cases, you'll need to make changes to your bank account, retirement plan, and life insurance beneficiaries.
3. Ensure Property is Titled Correctly
Make sure the titles align with every asset divided in your divorce decree. If they don't, you'll need to change things like the registered owner of your home, vehicles, and more.
4. Get Health Insurance Coverage
If your ex provided your medical insurance, you need to make other arrangements quickly. Post-divorce, you have the right to COBRA coverage for up to 36 months as long as you apply within 60 days.
5. Create a Post-Divorce Budget
Divorce changes everyone's financial picture. If you haven't taken a close look at your money situation, sit down and create a post-divorce budget to ensure your ongoing financial security.
Children Post-Divorce Checklist
If you and your ex have kids, this next list is for you. There's nothing simple about raising children as a single parent. But this post-divorce checklist can ensure you remain on the right track.
1. Review Your Co-Parenting Plan
Adhering to your co-parenting plan must be one of your priorities post-divorce. It's not only in your child's best interests to do so but yours as well. In addition to going over your agreement immediately after the divorce, it's useful to schedule an annual or bi-annual review of your parenting plan with an experienced family law attorney.
2. Update Your Contact Information
Even though most people in your life will be aware of your situation by the time your divorce is final, you'll still need to do some footwork to make things official. Officially notify your child's daycare, school, and medical providers of your updated contact information.
3. Arrange to Pay or Collect Child Support
Whether your divorce agreement states that you will pay or receive child support, you'll need to establish a procedure that works with your ex. Automatic monthly payments generally work best.
4. Create a Journal for Recordkeeping
One thing you probably learned during your divorce is the value of documentation. When it comes to what happens with your kids, continue to document everything from child support payments to visitation dates to the payment of extra expenses.
5. Revise Your Estate Plan
It's important to set up or update your estate plan to reflect your new situation. This plan ensures your property and assets are allocated to the right people, and your wishes relative to your children are expressed.
Get the Post-Divorce Legal Support You Need
The divorce process may be one of the most challenging things you'll ever face. But that doesn't mean you won't run into a few issues in your post-divorce life as well. Similar to the way you took control of your destiny during the divorce process, you also have options after divorce.
At Birt Family Law, we offer a variety of family law services that will continue to protect your rights, including client legal wellness assessments and regular reviews of parenting plans. Give us a call at 630-891-2478 or contact us online to discuss your current situation or needs. From our office in Wheaton, we serve clients throughout DuPage and Kane Counties.