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What Do I Need to Do After My Divorce is Final?

Thomas A. Greenwald | September 24, 2014

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It is important to notify the court, governmental agencies, your employer, and others of the changes that have occurred in your life due to the divorce. This may include a change in tax status, change of address, change in beneficiary designations, or a name change. It is also important that you organize your personal documents and make sure all transfers have taken place as required under the terms of your divorce decree. The consequences of not providing proper notice or failing to complete matters set forth in your divorce decree can have a significant negative impact on your future.  If too much time has gone by the harm may be irreparable. Therefore, it is important to have a plan as you move toward the next chapter in your life.

Start by obtaining a certified copy of your divorce decree from your attorney. Depending on the number of transfers or the number of notices required in your case, you may want to obtain multiple certified copies of your divorce decree.  In many cases it is less expensive and far easier to obtain certified copies of your divorce decree on the day your divorce is finalized as opposed to trying to obtain certified copies of your divorce decree at a later date.

Next, review your divorce decree carefully and make a list of all notices, transfers, and action items under the terms of the divorce decree. Identify the person responsible for each action item and provide a reasonable timeline for completion of each item.

Review and update personal information and provide timely notice of your tax status, your address, and name, if applicable as follows:

  1. Provide your employer with a completed Form W-4 for exemptions.  The IRS Withholding Calculator at www.irs.gov can be used to determine what your withholding should be;
  2. If you have a new address, be sure to provide the Internal Revenue Service, court, child support office, your attorney, creditors, financial institutions, and your employer with your new address;
  3. If you changed your name as part of your divorce, notify the Social Security Administration by submitting a Form SS-5 Application for a Social Security Card (www.ssa.gov). You should also notify your employer, financial institutions, creditors, and the department of motor vehicles of your name change;
  4. Review the beneficiaries on life insurance, retirement accounts, and other financial accounts;
  5. Review your will; and
  6. Change usernames and/or passwords to all accounts, social media, and other online access.

Finally, create a file for each transfer required to take place under the terms of your divorce decree (i.e., transfer of house, motor vehicle, financial account, retirement, etc.).  Keep copies of call logs, notes, communications, and other information relevant to each transfer in a separate file. Maintain the file until the transfer is complete. Depending on the circumstances, your accountant or attorney may suggest that you retain the files for an extended period of time.

Divorce brings many changes and challenges and provides a chance for a new beginning. So, take control, get organized, and move confidently toward the future.

Learn More

Tom Greenwald is an experienced trial lawyer with 30 years of family law experience. He has been named Best Lawyers© Family Law “Lawyer of the Year” in Dallas/Fort Worth by Best Lawyers and named “Best Lawyers in Dallas: Family Law,” by D Magazine six times, including 2022. Tom brings specialized expertise to complex divorces, including complex compensation structures, property division, dealing with private business interests, separate property claims, business valuation, and child custody. His goal is to help clients find efficient and constructive solutions that will enable them to save money and maintain good working relationships in the future.

To learn more, contact Tom Greenwald at (214) 473-9696.

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