5 Priorities After Your Divorce Becomes Final

FINALLY! After an emotional roller coaster, you get your divorce decree, signed by the judge. You are now officially a single person again. Whew! You may celebrate, or you may mourn on that day, but stay focused, you’re not quite over the finish line. Even though it has been filed in court, you have to take the next steps to make sure the agreement is implemented. It doesn’t automatically happen through the courts.

Review Your Decree

First, make sure you fully understand what’s in that envelope and what’s been awarded to you. This is a great time to sit down with a financial advisor to map out your new financial plan, open new accounts if needed and consolidate old ones.

Update all accounts

Be sure to remove your ex-spouse’s name from any existing accounts including utilities, banks, credit cards, insurance policies, etc. You may need to have a QDRO prepared to split a retirement plan. Don’t delay! Get that going now to ensure a timely split of the account. If you don’t already have one, get a credit card in your name alone. Now is the time to establish your own financial identity.

Get Organized

Don’t just dump everything in a drawer, where it will never be seen again. If you’ve never had one, create a filing system for your important financial documents as well as any statements that need to be retained for taxes. If you’re tech savvy, this can be 100% electronic but it needs to exist in whatever form.

Update Beneficiaries

Be sure to update the beneficiaries on accounts and insurance policies immediately. I could tell you nightmare stories of ex spouse’s inheriting huge 401(k) plans because someone forgot to update the beneficiaries.

Write a New Will

Everything has changed. Be sure your new wishes are clear so there is no confusion. If you had any trusts in place, you’ll need to have them terminated and create new ones.

When you finally get your final decree, you may feel like it’s the end of something. It’s ok to cry a little for your old life – just a little. But don’t let that keep you from creating your new life. Most people, years down the road, believe that their divorce was one of the biggest blessings of their lives. Can you think of anyone who wishes they were still married to their ex?

This change opens space for you to become a healthier, happier person. The process isn’t necessarily fun, but with each step you’ll feel your new independence. These steps will help you move to the next phase of your life.

Today really is the first day of the rest of your life!


About the author:

Bev Banfield is a CPA, Certified Divorce Financial Analyst®, and founder of Banfield Divorce Financial Advisors. The Denver-based company was established to help divorcing couples more easily and equitably separate their finances. Banfield has more than 30 years of experience in financial analysis, budgeting, and auditing.  Contact us for more information at (303) 482-1726 or bev@bbdfa.com. Connect with me on LinkedIn  https://www.linkedin.com/in/bbanfield/