woman speaking to divorcing couple

Life After Divorce: Essential Steps to Take Once Your Divorce Is Finalized

By Michael DiFalco

Starting a new chapter in your life after divorce can be both exhilarating and daunting. The judge has signed the final decree, but before you settle into your post-divorce life, it’s crucial to address any loose ends. Our post-divorce checklist will help you ensure all necessary tasks are completed for a smooth transition.

1. Obtain and Review Your Divorce Decree

First and foremost, acquire a certified copy of your divorce decree and keep it in a safe place. This document contains essential information about child custody, visitation, child support, and property division. Your attorney will usually provide you with a copy, but you can obtain additional copies from the courthouse clerk’s office for a fee.

2. Update Passwords for Personal Accounts

After your divorce, consider changing the passwords for any shared accounts, such as social media, online banking, home security, or streaming services, to maintain your privacy.

3. Change Your Name on Official Documents and Accounts

If you chose to revert to your maiden name or a previous surname, use a certified copy of your divorce decree or a Certificate of Name Change to update your name on official documents and accounts, such as your Social Security card, driver’s license, bank accounts, and more.

4. Close Joint Accounts and Open New Ones

Ensure that all joint accounts, including credit cards and store accounts, are closed. Open new accounts solely in your name and update beneficiaries on retirement accounts and other assets to avoid any unintended consequences.

5. Update Your Will & Estate Planning Documents

You should create a new Last Will & Testament with updated beneficiaries. Although an official divorce terminates the former spouse’s rights, it is still important to change all of your estate planning documents, including your Will as well as any Powers of Attorney or Health Care Proxy forms you have previously drafted naming your former spouse.

6. Update Your List of Emergency Contacts

Replace your ex-spouse as an emergency contact, and update your children’s school with your current contact information. In some cases, schools may request a copy of your divorce decree.

7. Review and Update Insurance Policies

Carefully review all insurance policies, including home, car, life, and health insurance. Update the list of assets in your homeowner’s policy to reflect any changes resulting from the divorce settlement.

8. Execute and File Property Deeds

If you owned real estate with your former spouse, ensure that all necessary deeds are executed and filed with the county clerk’s office. Consult your attorney for assistance in preparing the proper closing documents.

9. Handle Vehicle Title Transfers

For jointly owned vehicles, take care of title transfers, registration, license plates, insurance, and any tax issues.

10. Adapt to New Parenting Arrangements

To reduce potential conflict, try to adhere to the parenting arrangements and child support guidelines outlined in your divorce decree. Establish a regular routine for your children and consider using a shared calendar or co-parenting app to keep both parents informed.

If you need assistance with child support, visitation, or custody, contact the family law attorneys at Aiello & DiFalco. Our experienced team is here to guide you through this difficult time and help you navigate your new life after divorce.

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.