Once you have officially finalized your divorce, it might feel like you are completely starting anew on an exciting chapter of your life. Before you get too carried away with the freedom of this moment, however, there are still some crucial legal actions you will need to take to ensure your fresh start is not immediately marred by some entirely avoidable mistakes. You got this far, so just remember to take these next few steps and you will be able to enjoy your new life without worrying about any unfinished business.
- Be sure to follow through on your property settlement: Assuming your divorce attorney handled everything properly, you should have a clear divorce decree that expressly states what will be divided between you and your spouse. Big-ticket items like the home and any vehicles will be among the most important of these items. They also usually have ownership registered with the state, which means you will have to tell the government about the new owner. You can ask your attorney to take care of this for you. For your part, you need to keep everything separated. This means that if you have a boat, you should not leave it in your ex-spouse’s garage. You should also keep excellent records throughout this process. If something ends up going wrong and your dealings were handled informally, landing you back in court, you could end up losing to your ex-spouse if he or she maintained better records than you.
- Ensure that accounts are completely separated: As spouses, the two of you probably had joint bank accounts and credit cards. You need to close these out and notify your employer to update your direct deposit and retirement accounts. Additionally, you should check your tax withholding and change your status. Notify the major credit bureaus to ensure none of your joint accounts remain open. Lastly, while this might seem obvious, you need to make sure you change all of your passwords to something your spouse will be unable to guess.
- Check on your estate planning: Forgetting to erase your ex from your estate plans might mean that, upon your death, he or she will receive your property. Begin the process of erasing your ex-spouse with your will, which should be updated to exclude him or her. Other accounts that are set up to transfer in the event of your death should also be updated, such as retirement accounts, savings accounts, and Social Security. Check your life insurance and make sure that your spouse is not the beneficiary. Essentially, you want to make sure that anything that might be transferred when you die, does not go to your ex-spouse simply because you neglected to update it.
- Child support: If you share children with your ex, this is another element you need to take care of. Depending on the state in which you live, child support might be supervised by a government entity. You need to make sure all of your records are in place for that and ensure your spouse has the correct address to allow for back and forth correspondence. If a government entity does not handle these transactions, consult a lawyer or third party to stand between you and your ex-spouse. You should also remember to notify anyone who might regularly deal with your kids. Their school and daycare should be up to date on your situation since they will need to share information with both of you. Otherwise, they might assume you are still together and find it necessary to only inform one parent.
- Change your name: This is not necessarily a must, but more of a personal preference. If you decide to change your name, you will need to contact the Department of Motor Vehicles, Social Security, your employer, and your financial institutions.
Long Island Divorce Attorney
At Hedayati Law Group, P.C., our firm understands the difficulty of the divorce process, even when the circumstances are amicable. Our Long Island team of divorce attorneys are here to ensure your best interests are protected through a legal strategy that effectively addresses your needs and objectives. We will help you understand all legal options available to you, so you are informed and involved in every decision.
Backed by over 100 years of combined legal experience, you can rest assured you will receive the exceptional representation you deserve.
Call our trusted team today at (631) 880-6440 for a free consultation.