Tips for The Wise Divorcee

Once a judge signs your “Final Order and Decree of Divorce” the divorce process is complete.  You’re free to walk naked in your home, go on a trip, and dominate the TV remote (for other ideas see: Thrive in Life).  There, however, are likely loose ends that you should tie up to ensure nothing throws a wrench in your new plans.  The following information is provided to help you create a list of “to-do’s.”  This is not a comprehensive list and is merely general information.  It may not be specifically applicable to your case depending on the particular facts of your divorce.  If you have any questions about the Decree you should contact your attorney immediately.  For tax advise, you should contact your tax preparer.

1.  Make a new will.

2.  Review existing life insurance, annuities, pension, profit sharing plans, IRA’s, 401(k)’s, and other types of insuring agreements in which you have named your former spouse as a beneficiary.  If you do  not want your former spouse to remain a beneficiary on these policies or plans, then you must change the beneficiary.

3.  Keep in mind, court orders regarding responsibility for payment of debts and liabilities are effective between you and your former spouse, but do not bind the creditor (for example your mortgage lender).  If your former spouse is responsible for payment of any debts or liabilities for which you are also a named borrower, keep an eye on your credit report or follow-up with the lender to make sure these debts and liabilities are paid as agreed.

4.  If you still have joint credit cards with your former spouse, the only sure way to protect yourself against liability for further charges is to cancel the credit card.  You should notify the credit card company directly by certified mail, return receipt requested, that you wish to close the account.

5.  Before you sign any future tax return or take any action with respect to your federal or state income tax returns, please review your situation with your tax advisor.

6.  If you’re vehicle was jointly titled, you should re-register it solely in your name.

7.  Make sure all joint bank accounts are closed and distribute the balances per your divorce decree.

8.  If you were awarded custody and wish to move out-of-state or a considerable distance from your current home in the future, discuss your intentions with your attorney before you put your plan into action.

9.  Keep a written log of all support payments in the future.  This should include the date due, amount due, date paid, and amount paid.  This will be handy if there’s any problems down the road.

10.  Try to co-parent effectively.  Keep in mind that just because someone was a horrible spouse does not mean they are a horrible parent.  Co-parenting websites such as Our Family Wizard provide an excellent tool to communicate and share information without directly speaking to your former spouse.  Plus, if you and your co-parent reach an impasse, you have very clear and accurate documentation of who said what and when it was said.