What to Do After a Divorce

Finalizing your divorce may supply much needed emotional relief.

You and your ex have successfully divided your property, agreed on financial support, and are on the other side of the child custody discussions. You can finally breathe, right?

Well, almost.

All the stressful negotiations might be over, but there could still be a few details to consider. The following list addresses steps you may want to take to signal your new life as a single person.

Not all these steps are legally needed. You should, however, be aware of your options so you can make the best decision for you.

Will You Change Your Last Name?

While not mandatory, the question of whether you should keep your married name can apply to both men and women during (and sometimes after) a divorce. Generally, a name change can occur as part of the divorce but may not come to mind as a main consideration for either party until the end of the process.

Some people may choose to keep their married name because they want to have the same last name as their children. Those who do decide to revert to the last name they had before marriage or to some other last name should let their attorney know before the divorce is final.

If you decide later that you want to make a name change, you can always petition later for one. If you do change your name at any point, you will need to update your records with the social security office, the DMV for a new license, your insurance company, employer, bank, and financial lenders among others.

Division of Retirement Assets

You may have decided who will get certain assets, including all or a portion of retirement assets, pensions, stock options, or other financial assets. However, you very likely need to follow through after the divorce to make sure the asset division happens how you and your spouse agreed.

Some division of assets happen as part of the divorce decree, but some division can’t happen until the decree is final. Make sure to ask your attorney what else will need to be addressed once the divorce is finalized.

Changing Beneficiaries

In the final stages of divorce and after it is all over, you really just want to be done dealing with the legal fallout. However, you should take the time to review your designated beneficiaries. A divorce decree does not automatically remove your spouse as a beneficiary. You need to take steps to make that happen, once the matter is final.

Common assets that will require a change of beneficiary include:

  • Pensions
  • Retirement accounts
  • Bank accounts
  • Life insurance

Removing your former spouse as a beneficiary is not required. Reviewing your financial documents allows you to consider your options. Should you decide to move forward with any beneficiary changes, know that there are limitations to when you can take this step.

You may want to speak with your divorce attorney about your designated beneficiaries and when you would be able to make any desired changes. Sometimes naming your ex as a beneficiary is required as part of a divorce decree, especially when spousal support or child support obligations remain in effect.

New Insurance Policies

Do you and your former spouse have any joint insurance policies? If so, you may be required to get new policies in place after your divorce, depending on your policy provider and their requirements. In addition to car, health and homeowner’s insurance, you may have other policies to replace. You should review your insurance policies and get guidance from your attorney.

Managing Ongoing Communication

A simple divorce with no children or financial support payments could mean truly separate paths for you and your ex-spouse. If so, there may not be a need for future communication.

However, many divorces involve one spouse paying alimony to their ex-spouse, the payment of child support, or shared custody of children. In these cases, there will be ongoing communication. Consider how you will manage that communication. There are many services that provide communication indirectly, if direct communication is not feasible.

Divorce is not easy. However, taking the steps necessary and right for you could help you move forward in your new life as a single person.

Speak to an Experienced Divorce Attorney Today

While divorce may be common, when you go through it yourself, you still deserve dedicated, personal focus on your rights and unique situation. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you figure out the best way forward, explain the law, and represent you in court if it is ever necessary. Take the first step now and contact a local divorce attorney to discuss your divorce.

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