Where to Turn for Help After It’s Over

Once a divorce or other family law matter is completed, the parties usually begin to feel a sense of relief. Sometimes the case has been bitter and hard-fought, and other times the case may have been rather amicable or even tedious, but the case is rarely completely over. There always seem to be loose ends, unanticipated wrinkles and nagging questions.

To address the situation, several things things can be done to assist people in their transition to living under new arrangements.

1. You can get professional, skilled help for big and small problems. Your attorney can probably recommend other appropriate professionals to assist you to work with the following professionals:

  • Personal counselors: They can help you through the grieving process or help you or your children deal with your new situation.
  • Life coaches: They are not therapists, but they help people determine what they want to accomplish and then the best way to accomplish it.
  • Financial planners: There are different types of financial planners. You should look for someone appropriate for your financial needs and abilities. Some people have to take on management responsibility that they don’t know about and haven’t dealt with before. It helps to have someone on your side in determining how to manage your income, assets and liabilities. Many people appreciate having an expert help them plan for retirement.


Wrapping Up Your Divorce

So now you’re officially divorced. This has been incredibly painful, and the last thing you want to do is to spend more time messing with it. But you’ll be much better off down the road if you spend a few minutes now to make sure everything is in order.

Read Your Order

There’s no substitute for carefully reading your divorce court order from beginning to end. Ideally, you already did this before the judge signed it. Even if you did, though, read it again. Don’t rely on the judge, or even your lawyer. You’re the one who’s going to have to live with it, so you need to make sure you understand it thoroughly.

You might want to make a copy of your order and give it to a trusted friend to read. "Fresh eyes" may help spot something you meant to cover but forgot to mention. It may be too late to bring it up now, but the sooner you know about it, the more likely you can deal with it effectively.

Change It If Necessary

Divorced spouses are notorious for keeping the fight going after the judge has signed the divorce court order. As a result, it’s tough to change a divorce court judgment after it’s signed.

But there may be some changes you can make:

  • You can change any obvious typographical errors.
  • You may be able to change a provision that is unenforceable by its terms – for example, a provision that requires you to transfer a bank account that doesn’t exist.
  • In some states, if you move quickly, you may be able to change a settlement agreement that you signed while your judgment was impaired or while you were under extreme duress.
  • Or you can appeal.


Life after divorce

A guide to some of the matters you may need to handle post-divorce.

You’ve just received your divorce judgment. Give yourself a pat on the back for having completed such a long, hard process. But before you breathe that sigh of relief, you should know that it ain’t over yet. Your judgment may require you to handle more paperwork, payments, and the transfer of assets. And now you have the challenge of starting a new life on your own: perhaps managing money for the first time, or finding a (new) job, or figuring out how you’re going to take care of your kids as a solo or part-time parent.

As with most divorce-related matters, this is going to seem like a formidable challenge indeed. But take heart: if you can maintain a positive attitude, and get some good advice and information, you can tie up all the loose ends and get on with creating a satisfying new life for yourself. Here are some hints and suggestions to put you on the right track.

Your Divorce Judgment

Read your separation agreement (if any) and your divorce judgment carefully. If you don’t understand something, ask your lawyer about it. If your agreement has not been finalized yet, now’s the time to make sure you understand and can live with all of the stipulations. Whatever you do, don’t agree to something in the hope that you can get it changed down the road. You are entering into a legally-binding contract with your ex-spouse, and you can’t break the terms of the agreement easily. Unless there’s a powerful (and legal) reason to modify an agreement, the courts will not look favorably upon your request to do so. So make sure that you’re willing and able to comply with all of the terms before signing anything. After you receive your divorce judgment, do exactly what it requires you to do. This point cannot be made too strongly: if you fail to live up to your legal obligations, you’re in for another round of bitterness and acrimony — and maybe even another court battle. Can you really afford it — financially or emotionally?

If you want to comply with the agreement, but you’re unsure of your next step, talk to your attorney. He or she will tell you what you need to do (in what order), which things you can handle yourself, and which items your attorney should handle. Ask your lawyer to put this list in writing so there’s no confusion or wasted effort later on. You can use this letter as a checklist to help ensure nothing gets accidentally overlooked.

According to your judgment, you may need to complete certain tasks and transactions by a specific date. These may cover a wide range, including things such as: issuing the first child or spousal support check; closing your joint checking account; canceling joint credit cards; selling the house; moving your possessions out of the cottage; or returning your ex’s comic-book collection. Mark these dates on a calendar so you don’t miss them. If you demonstrate your intention to live up to your side of the agreement from the very beginning, it will go a long way towards creating goodwill between you and your ex.


Checklist: Post-Divorce Actions To Take

The divorce is final. You breathe a sigh of relief. No more papers to file, no more documents to complete, no more red tape. Well, not quite. Even after the judgment is entered, there are certain steps that you must take to effectuate the provisions of the divorce decree and make sure that the financial and legal aspects of your life reflect your newly single status. The following checklist can serve as a helpful reminder of what remains to be done. Not every item below may apply to you, but there are surely some listed tasks that require your immediate attention.

____ Divide all property as set forth in the divorce decree.
____ Execute a quitclaim deed to transfer title to real property to your former spouse, and/or make sure that your ex-spouse does the same, as required by the divorce decree.
____ Change the titles to your motor vehicles to reflect the ownership as set forth in the divorce decree.
____ Notify your auto insurer of any changes in automobile drivers, ownership, and addresses.
____ Make sure that your name has been removed from any debts or loans that are no longer your responsibility.
____ If you change your name (such as by reverting to your maiden name) as a result of the divorce, notify all of your creditors of the change.
____ If you move, notify all of your creditors of your change of address.
____ Notify the Social Security Administration of your name change.
____ Apply for a driver’s license with your new name on it.
____ Apply for a driver’s license with your new address on it.
____ Change your name on your bank accounts and checks, or open new accounts in your name only.
____ Change your address on your bank accounts and checks.
____ Apply for credit in your own name.
____ Remove your former spouse’s name from your lease or mortgage.
____ Change the beneficiary on your life insurance policy, if permissible under the divorce decree.
____ Obtain life insurance naming your former spouse and/or children as beneficiaries to ensure continued support if you should die, if required by the divorce decree.
____ Write a new will.
____ Execute all necessary COBRA documents to ensure continued health insurance coverage, or make sure that your ex-spouse has done the same.
____ Make sure that the Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is entered and implemented, if required under the divorce decree.
____ Take all other actions required by the divorce decree.
____ Pay all support when due.
____ If you change jobs, notify your new employer of any court-ordered support, if required by law to do so, to effectuate continued automatic withholding.

Keep your scheduled visitation times with your children.

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