Divorce is a lengthy process often aptly described as “messy.” There are plenty of considerations that are dealt with through the court system, such as determining child custody, deciding what happens with the couple’s house or property and other possessions, etc.
Of course, this is also an emotional time. Couples might still be living together while the divorce makes its way through all the legal formalities. It’s possible for both parties to mutually and peaceably agree to get divorced, but it’s far more common for anger and resentment, and even guilt, to be present in droves.
It’s no surprise that couples can’t wait for the divorce to be finalized by the judge. Once you receive those papers, the heartache and struggle end and you can begin to move on, right?
There are a few more details that you and your now-former partner need to take care of in the weeks immediately after your divorce is finalized.
Let’s say you and your ex have been living together throughout the divorce proceedings. Each of you was hoping to hold onto the house, but the judge granted it to your ex. The court has therefore given you a set timeline in order to move out.
Because finding a new home or apartment can take time, not to mention the time it takes to actually get the keys and to move all of your things, it’s wise to put your belongings in storage and move into temporary housing at a hotel or with a friend or family member.
If, on the other hand, it is your ex who is required to move out, recognize that he or she is legally allowed to live in “your” home until the date set by the judge. Talk to your lawyer in a divorce consultation so that you understand what steps to take if your ex has not moved out in time. The best way to avoid conflict on court who will stay and keep the house, you might want to first agree to instead transfer ownership to your kids by creating a quitclaim deed or agree to co-parent together while one is looking for another place to stay.
Meeting with Your Insurance Agent
It’s normal for spouses to share insurance plans. In fact, doing so often keeps the costs lower. Health insurance, car insurance, life insurance, home insurance … all of these plans (and more, depending on what you have) need to be separated.
In order to avoid a gap in coverage, talk to your insurance agent about how to best handle this split. Your insurance company encounters this often enough to have a plan in place to give you an affordable, although possibly temporary, option.
Separating Bank Accounts, Including Retirement Funds
When things start to go sour in a relationship, many couples split their bank accounts. But if you haven’t already, it’s time to take your name off a joint account. The judge who handled your divorce case will give specific directions for how investment and retirement funds are to be split, as well as any debts that bear both of your names.
Paying Alimony or Child Support
If you’re the one paying alimony or child support, make sure you know exactly what amount to write on the check each month, where to send it and for how long you will need to pay. Keep very thorough records in case your payment compliance is ever questioned.
Communication May Need to Continue
Although you’d like to be done with your ex after the divorce is finalized, the fact is that communication may need to continue. You may need to exchange items that were forgotten during the initial move-out phase. You might share custody of your children and need to communicate about holidays, school, etc.
Complying with Any Other Requirements of the Judgement
This is an abbreviated list that refers to the most common items on a newly divorced person’s to-do list. The judge who presided over your case may have decreed other requirements. Work with your lawyer to make sure you understand how to comply.