What to Do After a Divorce

After the final divorce decree is filed, you may feel a sense of relief that the emotional process of negotiating the division of property, agreeing on financial support and child custody is over. While the negotiations may be over, there are still some business details that need to be taken care of in order for you to start your life again as a single person.
Change Your Name
This step is not mandatory. Some people do not change their name from their birth name and therefore have no need to change their name when they get divorced. Other people who have used their married name for many years or who have children who share their married name decide to keep their married name after a divorce. There is no legal requirement that a person stop using their married name when a divorce occurs.
However, some people do decide that they no longer wish to share a last name with their ex-spouse. Those people need to follow all of the steps that they followed when they changed their name at the time of the marriage. For example, they must contact the social security office, the department of motor vehicles, their employer, their banks, their insurance companies, their financial lenders and anyone else who currently uses their name for official business and follow their rules and directions for name changes.
Change Your Beneficiaries
It is important that you remember to change your beneficiary in your will, your trusts, your retirement accounts and any life insurance policies that you hold. You might decide that you no longer want your spouse to be your beneficiary and that instead you want your parents, your children or your siblings to inherit your assets. 
Change Your Insurance Policies
If you hold insurance policies that insure both you and your spouse you will likely be required to get separate insurance policies once you are divorced. Some common examples of insurance policies that need to be changed include health insurance, car insurance and homeowner insurance policies.
Maintain Records
In a simple divorce where there is no alimony or child support and no children of the marriage it may be possible that your final divorce decree truly separates you as a couple and there may be no need for any future communication between the divorcees.
However, many divorces involve one spouse paying alimony to other spouse, the payment of child support or shared custody of the children. In those cases, there will be ongoing communication between the spouses. Each spouse should keep careful records about when alimony or child payments are due and whether they were received on time and in full. If child visitation is part of the divorce agreement then records should also be kept of all visitations and any concerns about safety or appropriate behavior that might arise during those visits. All of this information will be useful to you if you need to go back to court to either enforce your original divorce agreement or amend it.
Divorce is not easy. However, it is important to take all of the steps necessary to separate your life from your ex-spouse’s life to the greatest degree possible.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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