Post-Divorce Checklist: Important Steps to Take After Your Divorce is Finalized

Navigating life post-divorce can be a daunting task for many. While the legal proceedings may have ended, there are a number of critical tasks that must be completed to ensure a smooth transition into the next chapter of your life.

Finances After Divorce

In most cases, money is one of the more contentious aspects of a divorce. Whether you were a one-income or dual-income household, there are serious consequences attached to finances in the wake of a divorce.

After your divorce, all joint bank accounts will need to be separated. You may need to reach out to your bank to understand what their process is for a divorce and the documents you’ll need to get things handled.

The same goes for joint credit cards. It’s usually best to close out these accounts. However, you should know that closing accounts can impact credit scores. So this is something where you may want to consult with a financial advisor.

Next, consider your will and estate plan. This will need to be updated in order to reflect the divorce. In some cases, only minor changes to the language will need to be made. In other divorces, the entire will may need to be updated to account for changes in beneficiaries and/or the distribution of assets. This is also a good time to review power of attorney. If you and your spouse were each other’s representatives, you’ll likely want to appoint other people to these roles.

If children are involved, alimony and child support will have to be addressed. Make sure you understand the terms of the divorce, how much is owed by whom, when it’s owed, how payments are to be structured, etc.

Personal Adjustments After Divorce

Practically speaking, divorce is life-changing. From your long-term plans to your daily habits and routines, everything gets a major shake-up. Don’t overlook the need to make some personal adjustments in the weeks and months that follow.

Your daily routine may have changed significantly post-divorce. Establishing new routines can provide a sense of normalcy and control. This could include new exercise routines, meal plans, or social activities.

If you have kids, maintaining some semblance of consistency in their routines can provide a helpful sense of security during this time.

While your kids are your first priority, don’t overlook your own needs. Just like the airline stewardess tells you to put your oxygen mask on before helping others, it’s imperative that you take care of your mental and emotional needs.

If you have supportive friends and family, lean into them during this time. If not, there are support groups and care and recovery programs for individuals coming out of divorce. It can be helpful to join these to hear from others going through similar experiences.

Legal Tasks After a Divorce

There are a number of legal issues that will have to be sorted out after a divorce. If you’ve done a good job of hiring a skilled divorce attorney on the front end, the legal tasks on the back end will be much easier to understand.

You’ll have to update a bunch of legal documents if there’s a name change involved. (This may include your Social Security records, driver’s license, passport, etc.) Then there are things like bank accounts, credit cards, titles, deeds, and even utility bills.

Your divorce decree is the definitive legal document associated with your divorce. This is where you’ll find details related to asset division, alimony, child custody arrangements, and other information. Make sure you understand every aspect of the decree. If you have questions, your attorney can help you gain some clarity.

Putting it All Together

Nobody (hopefully) enters into a marriage thinking about divorce. But, unfortunately, 40 percent or more of all divorces ultimately end in a split. By understanding how to handle the aftermath of a divorce, you can ensure you’re in a solid position to architect the next phase of your life.

Let this article serve as a valuable resource to get you moving in a positive direction.