After months—or even years—of hammering out the details of the settlement and strong emotions, your divorce has been finalized. While it is a huge relief to know that the divorce process is finally over, there are still a few things—both financially and legally—that you need to take care of before you start a new chapter of your life.
Here are several things you need to do after your divorce has been finalized:
- Thoroughly assess your divorce decree – Although this may be the last thing on your mind, forgetting the minor details of your post-divorce responsibilities can result in significant consequences. If there are certain deadlines you need to meet each month, such as paying monthly child support or scheduled visitation dates, mark down such dates on a calendar to not forget.
- Close any joint bank accounts and credit cards – If you and your ex-spouse share a bank account, contact the bank and make sure to have it closed. Additionally, contact the credit card companies and inform them of your new marital status. You must close or freeze joint credit cards and remove your ex-spouse as an authorized user.
- Update your health insurance policy – If your ex-spouse is on your plan, you must contact your health insurance provider and inform them of your single status in order to have your ex-spouse removed from your policy. On the other hand, if you were covered under your ex’s health insurance, check your divorce decree to see how much time you have to obtain your own coverage.
- Notify your employer – Inform your employer about your divorce, so that they can review your life insurance, retirement accounts, and tax deductions. For example, if your former spouse is still named under beneficiaries of your company’s plans, make sure your employer knows that you are no longer married. Removing your spouse’s name from your retirement account requires a division in plans.
- Update your will – Review your will and other estate planning documents with a lawyer in order to update the beneficiaries of your estate.
- Change your last name – If you wish to have your former last name back, you need to visit your local Social Security office in order to have the name change documented and to obtain a new Social Security card.
While the divorce is settled, it is critical to find the energy to address the issues mentioned above before you can get your life back on track. Do not think that once your divorce is over that you can start your new life immediately.