IMPORTANT STEPS TO TAKE ONCE YOUR DIVORCE IS FINAL
It is easy to feel stuck in limbo during a divorce, with various legal and practical limitations on how you can move forward in life. Once the divorce papers are signed by the Judge, however, there are a flurry of important tasks that need to be completed, some sooner than later.
Here is our checklist of just some of those essential tasks that you may need to address:
- Breathe, laugh, cry, go for a drink with friends, go on vacation, and take time out for yourself now that the process is over.
- Alert your health insurance provider that the divorce is finalized. This must be done within 30 days of the date of the divorce, after which a former spouse can no longer be covered under the other parties’ insurance. The party now without coverage then has 90 days to apply for COBRA coverage, if needed.
- Prepare a new Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy. Appointments of former spouses are automatically terminated, so you may need to identify a new executor under your Will, as part of a general review of your estate plan. J&G can help you with that review and the preparation of new documents.
- Ensure all joint bank accounts, including credit card accounts, have been closed, and that passwords, log in reminders, pin numbers, etc., have been changed to prevent access (accidental or otherwise) by your former spouse. This includes streaming services such as Netflix, which are sometimes overlooked.
- Split or separate any insurance policies, cell phone bills, EZ-Pass accounts, etc. You should give your former spouse notice before cancelling anything you carry for their benefit.
- Transfer any assets or liabilities as provided in a Separation Agreement or Judgment of Divorce. If you are transferring physical possession of a car registered in your name, remember to surrender the license plates to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) before turning over the car.
- Review your tax situation with an accountant and submit a new W4 to your employer to change your withholdings if necessary.
- Obtain a certified copy of the Judgment of Divorce from the County Clerk’s office if you need to change your last name with the DMV, Social Security, or on your passport, for example. You should also ensure your name is changed on your bank accounts, credit card accounts, and utilities accounts, among others, to avoid problems in confirming your identity later on.
- Ensure any Qualified Domestic Relations Orders are processed, if any pension or retirement accounts are being divided. These are often prepared by a separate company from your law firm. This step is easy to forget about, and usually takes months to finalize.
- Track the payment and/or receipt of any support obligations, including add-on expense for your children. Keep a copy of any proof of payment/reimbursement, including paid invoices, cancelled checks or bank statements, for example, in case you need to prove same at a later date.
The law firm of Jacobowitz & Gubits, LLP, is here to help you with all of your legal needs, wherever you may be in the divorce process.
This is not intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney for your specific situation.
Martin S. Butcher, Senior CounselMartin Butcher is senior counsel with the firm and practices Family and Matrimonial Law, and Bankruptcy Law. He can be reached by phone at 866-303-9595 toll free or 845-764-9656 and by email.[/column]