Checklist: What to Do After a Divorce

You will want to ensure that your life's financial and legal aspects reflect your newly single status. And if you have children, you and your ex-spouse will still need to cooperate as co-parents for their benefit.

The divorce is finally over. You have survived. Breathe a sigh of relief. No more papers to file, documents to complete, or red tape to get through. Well... not quite. Even after entering the judgment, there are specific steps that you must take to tie up loose ends after the divorce process.

This post-divorce checklist can be a helpful reminder of what to do after a divorce. Not every item below will apply to you, but some listed tasks need your immediate attention.

What To Do After a Divorce: A Checklist

  • ____ Divide all property as outlined in the divorce decree and settlement agreement.
  • ____ Execute a quitclaim deed to transfer title to real property or real estate to reflect the correct spouse as the primary homeowner, as required by the divorce decree.
  • ____ Change the titles of your motor vehicles to reflect the ownership as outlined in the divorce.
  • ____ Notify your auto insurer of changes in automobile drivers, ownership, and addresses.
  • ____ Make sure your name has been removed from any debts or loans that are no longer your responsibility.
  • ____ Check your credit report and dispute any changes that need to be reflected in your credit.
  • ____ If you changed your name (such as by reverting to your maiden name) as part of a divorce, notify all creditors of the change.
  • ____ If you move, tell your creditors of your change of address.
  • ____ Inform any joint credit cards of the divorce and remove your ex-spouse, if needed.
  • ____ Notify the Social Security Administration of your name change. Get a new social security card reflecting this update.
  • ____ Apply for a driver's license with your new name and address.
  • ____ Update your passport to show your new name.
  • ____ Change your name on your bank accounts and checks, or open new accounts in your name only. ____ Change your address on your bank accounts and checks.
  • ____ Make sure all joint accounts are severed or closed, as required, including savings accounts and investment accounts.
  • ____ Apply for a credit card in your name.
  • ____ Remove your former spouse's name from your lease or mortgage.
  • _____ Meet with a financial advisor to get advice on retirement plans, an estate plan, and other money matters.
  • ____ Change the beneficiary on your life insurance policy if permissible under the divorce decree. ____ Buy life insurance naming your former spouse and/or children as beneficiaries to ensure continued support if you should die, if required by the divorce decree.
  • ____ Update your listed beneficiaries on retirement accounts, such as an IRA.
  • ____ Write a new will.
  • ____ Update any health care directives and powers of attorney paperwork.
  • ____ Ensure health insurance coverage is in place for your children. This may include COBRA coverage through your ex-spouse's employer.
  • ____ Make sure the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) has been entered and implemented under the divorce decree.
  • ____ Pay all support when due.
  • ____ If you change jobs, notify your new employer of any court-ordered support, if required by law to do so, to ensure continued automatic withholding.
  • ____ Take all other actions required by the divorce decree.
  • ____ Keep your scheduled visitation times with your children.
  • ____ Notify your children's school of custody arrangements, issues, or limitations on who can access your children.
  • ____ Remember to take care of yourself.

Post Divorce Questions? An Attorney Can Help

Even though your divorce has been finalized, you may take a while to adjust to your new life. After reading this article, you may want more information about what to do after your divorce is finalized. You also may need to adjust alimony or spousal support, child support, or child custody. Your best option is to speak with an experienced divorce attorney who can help you make the right decisions. Your divorce lawyer or family law attorney can give you the right legal advice to meet your needs.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • You may not need an attorney for a simple divorce with uncontested issues
  • Legal advice is critical to protect your interests in a contested divorce
  • Divorce lawyers can help secure fair custody/visitation, support, and property division

An attorney is a skilled advocate during negotiations and court proceedings. Many attorneys offer free consultations.

Find a local attorney

Don't Forget About Estate Planning

Divorce is an ideal time to review your beneficiary designations on life insurance, bank accounts, and retirement accounts. You need to change your estate planning forms to reflect any new choices about your personal representative and beneficiaries. You can change your power of attorney if you named your ex-spouse as your agent. Also, change your health care directive to remove them from making your health care decisions.

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