Below are the top things you need to do when you are just getting divorced, after you have settled, or received a judgment of divorce in your case.
1.) Read the Paperwork That Completed Your Divorce Case
Most of the time, it’s going to be a settlement agreement. Once in awhile, it’s going to be a court order after a trial. It’s astonishing to me, how many people will come in, either shortly after a divorce, or even many, many years after divorce, and have no idea what they’re supposed to be doing, or what their obligations are, because they simply just never read it.
They’re usually complicated documents, especially if it’s a settlement agreement, so it may take you a lot of time, but it’s well worth the investment of time. If you don’t understand it, and you had a lawyer, go to your lawyer. Make sure that he or she explains it to you in great depth. If you didn’t have a lawyer, you might want to consult with one. You may pay a consultation fee, so that they can review and tell you what your obligations are, because it’s crucial that you understand it.
2.) Write out What Your Actual Obligations Are
Writing out the actual obligation will help so that it’s very clear to you and you understand what you’re doing. That way, you won’t have to go through what may be a 20, 30 page agreement each time you need to determine what your obligation is, or you have a question about it.
3.) Make a Log with Important Dates
This log will contain a list for follow-up for any important dates that may occur under the agreement, or any kind of triggers like, child emancipation or college. If you have alimony obligations, or you are receiving it, you want to note when they’re supposed to end. That may lead to a review of child support. It may also lead to a possible contempt, if your payments are stopped prematurely.
4.) Make Sure You’re in Compliance with All Obligations
A lot of times, there’s a lot of delay between the resolution of case and the paperwork, and you could possibly have fallen behind in some of your payments. You might have a wage execution or a probation account that’s being set up, and your payments may be lagging. You may need to catch up on that. Often, there’s insurance obligations. You want to make sure that you have the proper amount of insurance, and the beneficiaries are named properly.
5.) Make Sure the Other Party Is in Compliance with His or Her Obligations
Again, there’s often insurance obligations. Usually both parties will have similar obligations. You want to make sure that they other party to your divorce case does have that insurance in place. If there’s any kind of exchange of information or payments of debts, credit cards that need to be taken care of, you want to make sure that he or she is doing them also.
6.) Change the Accounts and Beneficiaries That You May Have Had While You Were Married
If you had joint credit cards, if you had retirement accounts with named beneficiaries, insurance policies, all these usually need to be changed. You want to make sure that you’re changing them consistent with your obligations, so for instance, you may not be able to change the named beneficiary of your insurance policy, because it may still be in the person that was previously named, but if it’s not, you want to make sure that you have those changed and updated.
7.) Draft a Will
Whether you had a will or not before you got divorced, once a divorce was filed, by what’s called operation of law, the will was revoked. So, once your divorce began, you no longer have a will. It’s very important that you have a will set up. Even though you are divorced and your ex-spouse will not likely inherit any of your property under your will, you have had a significant change of circumstances. You may have children, and by the intestate statute, which is the law that determines what happens to your assets if you die without a will, that law may not disclose of your property the way that you want it to. If you haven’t considered it because you were going through a divorce, and your attention and your mind was on that issue, you now need to stop and focus on where you’re going to go in the future. The most important thing is going to be making sure that your estate planning is up to date.