When a couple divorces, the final decree or order from a Court typically dictates how property shall be divided, how the children shall be parented, and what support will be paid moving forward. The decree will give you the dates and amounts of payments. The decree will also tell you what amount each of you is awarded of accounts or who shall keep the house. But there are some things a divorce does not dictate.
After a divorce is final, here are six things you (or your attorney) should do to finalize the division and move forward:
- Divide cash accounts. Bank accounts and investment accounts can be divided on your own. You both may need to work together to close joint accounts or transfer funds from one individual account to another. At the end of the process, you should have no joint accounts unless you have agreed to own something jointly.
- Pay-off and close joint credit cards. Joint credit card should be paid off and closed. You can take care of this on your own.
- Divide retirement. Retirement accounts need to be divided precisely as outlined in the decree. Non-qualified plans (like IRAs) can be divided with a copy of the decree and direction from the account holders – you can do this on your own. Qualified plans (like pensions, 401(k)’s or 403(b)’s) need a court order and you will have to have your attorney draft this or hire a consultant.
- Property title transfer. Title for any real estate that was awarded in the decree needs to be transferred to the individual owner. This can be done with a quit claim deed or order from the court that needs to be recorded with the county property office.
- Health insurance. Set up your own health insurance if needed or work with your former spouse to continue coverage for them.
- Estate planning. Your original will (if you had one) is no longer valid after divorce so you will need a new one. Hire an estate attorney to draft up a new will.