For many couples, getting a divorce is a stressful and emotionally painful process. Whether you and you ex chose to dissolve your marriage through divorce mediation, uncontested or collaborative divorce processes, or went through the contested divorce court process, receiving the final legal judgment that your divorce is official can bring about a mixture a relief and a sense of closure, despite the sorrow you may be experiencing. While getting your divorce finalized does mean that you are no longer married, there are a few additional legal steps to take after divorce that you both will need to take, in order to ensure that all remaining ties to the marriage are completely dissolved.
Five Additional Legal Steps to Take After Divorce
Review Permanent Orders or Separation Agreement
It’s very important that you review your Permanent Orders or Separation Agreement carefully and make note of all deadlines. Be sure to put these important dates and action items on your calendar and make sure to complete the required tasks to avoid violating the court order.
Draft a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (As Needed)
If your divorce agreement orders that retirement assets are to be transferred from one spouse to the other, make sure that a skilled professional drafts a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (if required) and that it is submitted to the court and the plan administrator in a timely manner. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order allows retirement assets to be transferred from one spouse to the other pursuant to a divorce without the transfer being subject to taxes or early withdrawal penalties. Qualified Domestic Relations Orders are very specialized and technical, and therefore it is wise to hire an expert to assist you through this process.
Obtain a Certified Divorce Decree
After a divorce, some people prefer to revert back to their maiden name. If this is something you want to pursue, make sure you request a name change during the divorce. Then, after the divorce is finalized, you will need to obtain a certified copy of your divorce Decree from the Clerk of Court. You will need a certified Decree to change your name with the Social Security Administration as well as when you update your driver’s license and other important accounts.
Complete a Change of Address Request
If you and your ex continued living in the same residence until your divorce was final, completing a Change of Address request form with the United States Postal Service will be necessary for ensuring that mail is forwarded to your new address. You will also need to submit the new address to your bank, credit card companies, utility companies, etc.
Update Your Will and Beneficiary Designation Forms
Be sure to update your will and any beneficiary designation forms after a divorce to remove the name of your former spouse. Beneficiary designation forms, such as the form that designates who the beneficiary is of your life insurance policy, may still list a former spouse’s name. If you update your will but not your beneficiary designation, it is possible that your ex-spouse could still receive benefits after the divorce is completed. If you did not have a will or beneficiary designation prior to your divorce, it’s essential that you establish them with your chosen beneficiaries (such as children, siblings, or parents) to ensure that your intentions are clearly and legally articulated and recorded in the event of your death. It is wise to consult with an estate planning lawyer to create an execute these legal documents.
Remember: Your Divorce Attorney is Here to Help
Finalizing your divorce may feel like a long, uphill battle, but taking the time and committing the energy to finalizing these five legal steps to take after divorce can help to make the transition period smoother and with fewer complications. If you are uncertain about some of the legal steps to take after divorce outlined above, such as generating a new will or obtaining the Qualified Domestic Relations Order, ask your divorce attorney for advice and direction and if possible, recommendations for qualified professionals who can assist you in finalizing these final steps. With time and a little patience, you’ll soon have all legal aspects of your former marriage dissolved and you’ll be in a better place to begin the next chapter of your life.
Contact Laura Monty Law
If you or your spouse will be filing for divorce in Northern Colorado or reside in the Larimer County or Fort Collins region, and want to explore a variety of divorce options, do not hesitate to contact Laura Monty Law. We provide collaborative divorce representation, divorce mediation services, legal advising for uncontested divorces and contested divorces, and a full array of divorce and family law services to meet your family’s needs. We strongly believe in taking a compassionate approach to family law, and recognize that every situation is unique.