After a divorce is finalized, there are a number of important issues to address. The experienced Colorado divorce lawyers at Halligan LLC can go over these issues and provide you a list of what you should get done. We can work with you to ensure every item is completed so that you avoid future problems. Call Halligan LLC now at (720) 608-2361 for a consultation.
It’s important to keep in mind that you cannot simply come up with an agreement without going through the entire divorce process. If you do not have a full settlement, mediation is required in every divorce case prior to going to court, and there’s no such thing as two different types of divorce. A common misconception is that there is one in which you settle and another that goes to trial. In reality, divorce cases are all the same, just some settle and some do not.
The following list is a general review of the areas that you should consider when putting together your post-divorce checklist. Common examples of tasks that need to be completed after a divorce include:
Get your Divorce Decree
Make sure you receive your divorce decree. Some jurisdictions may require further paperwork to be filed to receive an official decree from the court.
Check on Insurance Policies
Many couples share insurance policies with the same company. After a divorce (but NOT prior to entry of your divorce decree), you’ll need to separate your policies. Reach out to your insurance agent and find out what your options are in regard to setting up your own policies. Be sure to carefully review every one of your insurance policies – home, life, car, health, etc. Discuss your divorce with your agent and find out if you need to modify any of your information and paperwork due to the divorce. Make sure to comply with the terms of your orders and/or settlement agreement prior to canceling or modifying any insurance policy.
Some divorced couples don’t bother to get their own policy. This is a bad idea because the insurance company will eventually find out. When your insurer finds out you are no longer married, they may void your insurance back to the date of the divorce. Check with your agent. Don’t get caught believing you had insurance coverage.
Transferring a home depends on the terms of your separation agreement or orders. In many cases, one of you will need to sign a ‘Quit Claim Deed’ transferring title of the home to the other person. That deed removes the signing spouse’s name from the home title. However, it does not take anyone’s name off the mortgage and may not be advisable to execute prior to removal of your name from the mortgage. To get your name off a mortgage, the other party typically must refinance the loan in their sole name.
Transfer Vehicle Titles.
Make sure to change the titles of your vehicles to reflect new ownership according to the divorce decree. Executing Motor Vehicle Powers of Attorney is generally the easiest way to go for transfer of vehicle title.
Discuss Your Taxes With an Accountant
If your divorce decree is entered on or before December 31st, you cannot file taxes as married for that tax year. Tax issues should be addressed prior to entry of the divorce decree in the permanent orders or the separation agreement. You should contact your tax preparer prior to finalizing your divorce so you can resolve any issues that may arise. Taxes can be especially complicated the year of a divorce.
Divide Pension or 401(k)
Did you agree or get ordered to divide a pension or 401(k) with your spouse? To make the transfer tax and penalty free, a pension or 401(k) may need a Qualified Domestic Retirement Order (QDRO), which is a special court order for dividing retirement plans. You may be able to divide an IRA or savings account without one, but this is why it’s important to have an attorney. The majority of QDROs have to be drafted by an experienced professional, filed with the court, then signed by a judge.
Don’t delay as there will likely be a limit on the time you have to divide the accounts or pensions. Speak with your Colorado divorce lawyer to find out what needs to be done.
Change Your Name
If you want to change your name after the divorce, you will have to go to the Social Security office, the department of motor vehicles, and most likely call your bank and the utility companies you use. Bring a certified copy of the divorce Decree.
Update Estate Planning Documents
This includes wills, powers of attorney, and the need to establish trusts. You want to avoid leaving your estate to your ex. Furthermore, estate planning documents prevent a judge and your family members from making financial decisions for you.
Update Email Accounts
If you and your spouse share an email address, determine if you or your spouse wants to keep that address or if you will suspend it. If you decide to keep the account, make sure you change the password. While you’re at it, it’s a wise idea to change all your passwords.
Notify Your Children’s Teachers
If you have children in school, let the schools know that all communication should go to both parents from now on.
Contact a Colorado Divorce Lawyer
After your divorce, it will probably take some time for you to adjust to your new life. In addition to reviewing and implementing the tasks listed in this article, you may need an experienced divorce lawyer to adjust alimony, child support, or custody, among other important tasks.
Consult with an experienced Colorado divorce law attorney at Halligan LLC. We are committed to achieving fair resolutions for divorced couples. We will explain all your options. Call today at (720) 608-2361 for a consultation.