Congratulations, after months of litigation and negotiations you and your spouse have reached a settlement in your divorce. The final decree of divorce is drafted and approved by the judge and the stress that you’ve felt for so long is finally gone.
But often times, people forget that besides the divorce decree there are other documents that needs to be signed. For example, if a house is awarded to one spouse, the other spouse needs to execute a warranty deed giving up that spouse’s interest in the property.
If there is a retirement account that was split between the spouses, the parties need to make sure a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is also signed by the court and sent to the account administrator. Many times although the divorce is final, parties fail to complete the QDRO until years later. The best, most cost effective time to get it done is at the same time as the divorce decree.
Another final detail that comes up is a name change. If a wife has had her last name changed from her married name back to her maiden name, that name change becomes effective as soon as the judge approves the divorce. However, the wife will still need to take the decree to the social security office to get a new social security card and to get a new driver’s license.
Finally, I also always recommend that my clients update their will after a divorce. A spouse’s estate has undergone a significant change with the property and debts that were divided in the divorce and a party should reevaluate how he or she wants those handled along with who should be the new beneficiary. This also goes for any payable on death accounts such as life insurance or bank accounts that have a former spouse named as the beneficiary.
Although many times people just want the divorce over with, it is important to make sure that all of the final details are covered. You want to be in a situation where you don’t have to think about these things years down the road when documents can be lost or when something might be time sensitive.
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