Your Post-Divorce Checklist
However, many items can’t be taken care of until after the divorce is final.
Create your post-divorce checklist by using the information on this excellent page, “Everything You Need To Get Organized During And After A Divorce.” Below, I cover highlights from it and a few things that list doesn’t cover.
Preparing Your Post-Divorce List
Keep in mind that any list here or on other websites might not be comprehensive enough to include important steps needed in your situation. Consider reviewing your plans with your professional resources such as your attorney, financial advisor, and insurance agent.
In fact, it’s a good idea to create an action plan for the relevant items below with your ex-spouse before the divorce is final. It should list what will be done (as specifically as possible), who will do it, and by when.
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Divorce can disrupt things that you and your ex shared as a matter of course. These items are a great place to start transitioning to your own accounts and services.
Organize your divorce paperwork
There is a lot to keep track of as you go through the divorce process. Organizing the paperwork helps reduce frustration and stress as you move forward into your new life. For example, you many need additional certified or otherwise validated originals or copies of your divorce decree to accomplish some of the tasks listed below.
You shared a personal email account with your spouse
Open a new email account in your own name. Be sure not to use the same password as the shared account. Or, if you have had your own account all along, change its password, even if you didn’t tell anyone what it is. You’ll need this account to accomplish many of the items in this post.
Name change or address change
The option to return to your birth name is included in your divorce decree. Use this excellent list of the documents and records that may be affected by a name or address change.
In some cases you may have to mail in or present the current document in order to change the name on the document or account. For example, the Social Security name change procedure does not accept photocopies or notarized copies of required documents.
One place not listed in the link above is your AAA membership or other roadside assistance service.
Staying in the former marital home
- Your spouse opened the utility accounts in his/her name. Depending on your divorce agreement, you may have to transfer utility billing to you and your bank or credit card accounts for payment. Be aware some utilities require both parties to sign the form authorizing the transfer of the account.
- You opened the accounts. If you’re changing your name, you’ll need to look into this as well.
Check with the companies providing your gas/electric, landline/VOIP phone, Internet access, cable or satellite TV, etc.
You have a shared cell plan with your spouse
You may want to look into transferring your number into your own cell plan, even if your teens’ phones stay on the original plan. If you keep your phone on the original shared plan, and your ex is the owner of the plan, be aware he or she may be able to see your texts. Check with your cell carrier to determine their policy on this.
Update your list of important contacts
Perhaps your ex is still a viable emergency contact, or perhaps your ex is the last person who should be contacted during an emergency. Either way, you should update this list.
How your name or address changes appear on your credit records
You have two options about this:
- The credit bureaus will receive this information when they receive updates regarding your credit card account. Also, your Social Security number is the same, and that will also link any information that comes in with your new name. However, that change process can take several months. That could delay any new loan process you initiate.
- Contact the credit bureaus yourself. This is explained in Method 1 of “How to Change a Name With the Credit Bureaus.”
It’s also a good idea to learn about the effect of divorce on credit and your credit report.
Your Post-Divorce Digital Life
Much of our life is managed and lived online.
- Even after divorce, you and your ex may need to continue to share access to certain online accounts. These can include banking and credit cards, investment accounts, all kinds of insurance, government systems (online license and registration renewals), patient portals provided by doctors, the library, online entertainment channels, etc. Read more on handling a shared digital life here.
- You likely have accumulated e-books, music, movies, family photos, video games, and more that you shared with your spouse and managed for your children. Read more on handling shared digital assets here.
- Change your name (if applicable) and passwords on your personal social media accounts, e.g., Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. Do this even if you never told your ex the passwords.
Post-Divorce Financial Items
You’ll need to work through these items in accordance with the terms of your divorce agreement.
- Look into your credit. If not done already, cancel joint credit cards and obtain at least one in your own name.
- Adjust health insurance coverage as needed.
- Update beneficiary information on all accounts that have beneficiary designations, such as retirement and pension accounts and life insurance.
- Update or create new health proxy, power of attorney, will, and other estate planning documents. Note that the requirements for each document can vary from state to state, so check with your attorney.
- Reward points and frequent flyer programs. These are typically not transferable. Your agreement should spell out how this is handled.
- The house. The lists linked to above provide a great place to start to manage all the details of home ownership.
- Taxes. Preparing your tax return for the year in which you divorced may need to be coordinated with your ex.
- Debt. Your divorce agreement should spell out how these are to be managed.
For more checklists, visit DivorceSource.com.
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