When we submit your divorce papers to the court in order to obtain a Judgment of Divorce (JOD), the terms of the Settlement Agreement become the law. That means that each party is now bound by the terms of the Agreement. Take a close look at the Agreement and highlight any sections that require action.
We will send you one certified copy of the JOD, which has the Court’s official seal and stamp on it. If you need additional copies, you can go down to the courthouse to obtain them. Make sure to take ID.
Once you get it, protect this document — it is an important legal paper! When you are not using it, put it in a safe deposit box or another safe place.
- Change your beneficiaries on the following types of account to comply with the Judgment:
- Retirement accounts – IRAs, 401(k) accounts, pensions, 403(b) accounts, annuities, etc.
- Brokerage accounts – some require beneficiaries, some do not
- Life insurance policies
- Make sure your (or your ex’s) name is taken off of the titles to the house and the mortgage, if applicable. If you are going to continue to own the house jointly and you purchased it as a married couple, you may need to retitle the deed to reflect your new status as divorced. Check with a real estate attorney.
- If you are changing your name pursuant to the divorce, take the certified copy of the JOD to:
- Social Security
- Motor Vehicles
- Passport Office
- Once you change these three things, it should be fairly easy to change your name on other documents, such as your library card, credit cards, bank accounts, etc. Update your homeowner’s or rental insurance policy.
- Update your will, which determines who will receive your property after you die. Make sure that it conforms with the terms of the Settlement Agreement.
- This is also a good time to update your health care proxy and power of attorney, which go into effect if you become unable to make medical or financial decisions for yourself.
- Make sure you are each transferring all property in a timely manner as required by the JOD or the Settlement Agreement.
- Make sure a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is being filed if needed to transfer part or all of a pension or retirement plan.
- Change title and registration for your automobile, and tell your auto insurer.
- Obtain life insurance if required by the Agreement.
- Open up bank accounts in your name only or change title on joint accounts.
- Pay child and spousal support as agreed.
- Most important — keep to the parenting schedule!
A lot of people have mixed feelings once the divorce is over and done. After many years as a mediator, I feel confident in saying that the vast majority of people go on to live great lives after divorce. I’ve also learned the human spirit is very resilient.
Get your ducks in a row, and then go live your best life!