Steps After You Are Divorced

by Anna Assad
There are several administrative things you'll need to do after a divorce.

There are several administrative things you'll need to do after a divorce.

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Your divorce's finalization legally ends the marriage but creates another set of tasks. You'll have to do what's necessary to protect yourself financially and comply with the terms of the settlement. If you miss something after you've divorced -- the deadline to continue your health insurance through your spouse's employer, for example -- you may suffer the consequences.

Transfer Property

Your final divorce agreement or decree lists who gets what, but you'll have to do the property transfers with your ex-spouse. You should close all joint accounts with your spouse and divide the money according to the divorce settlement. Keep copies of final statements and closure paperwork from joint accounts so you'll have proof of the property division. If you and your spouse can't get along, ask a third party to help you with personal property division. For example, if you have a computer that your spouse got in the divorce, ask a friend to give the computer to your spouse. You'll need new titles if you transfer ownership of any motor vehicles. If one of you got the family home, you'll need a new deed prepared and filed in the county land records. If you need to transfer ownership of retirement funds, you may need a special court order to do so. Note that retirement asset division is subject to state and federal laws.

Keep Health Insurance

If you're staying on your ex-spouse's insurance through COBRA -- a federal act that allows you to keep employment-based health insurance temporarily -- you must get the paperwork filed before the plan's deadline. The deadline is usually 60 days after the plan notifies you of your right to continue coverage. Talk to the plan administrator, as identified in the deadline notice, if you need the COBRA paperwork. If you're not staying on your spouse's insurance, you'll need to get health insurance of your own to avoid a lapse in coverage. Check with your employer for health insurance options. If you're not employed, speak to the local social services department about free and low-cost health insurance plans offered by the state.

Review Estate Plan

You'll need to review your estate plan after a divorce. If your will leaves everything to your spouse, you'll need to make a new will. Any accounts you named beneficiaries on -- your retirement plan and life insurance policies, for example -- will likely need new beneficiary designations. If you have an obligation to name your children as your beneficiaries on your life insurance as part of your divorce settlement, give a copy of the policy information and the updated beneficiary designation to your ex-spouse.

Considerations

You'll need to sit down and make a new financial budget. Depending on your asset and debt division, you'll likely have less money to work with than before. Review household expenses and trim wherever necessary to make your bills and cover living costs. If you're going back to a former name, you'll need to change it on your driver's license and Social Security card. The procedure for returning to your maiden name after a divorce varies by state, as well as the procedure for a driver license name change. Speak to an attorney about resuming your maiden name, and contact the local department of vehicles to find out how to change your name on a license. Once you've changed your name in the state and on your license, you can apply for a corrected Social Security card at your local Social Security office.