A divorce starts a new chapter of your life. But even after it’s final, your life will not turn on a dime, especially if you share children with your ex-spouse. There will be loose ends to tie up and details to address. Where do you start?
What’s in Your Divorce Agreement?
Compile a list of what needs to be done and when, and calendar each task. You must honor your end of the bargain and keep track of your spouse’s obligations, so if they miss a deadline you’ll know about it.
If you have a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO), it’s a court order that may require one of you to share your retirement savings with the other. It’s often part of the process that divides spouses’ assets, and their requirements are time-sensitive.
Will You Need Health Insurance?
Unless you’re old enough for Medicare, have health insurance from your employer, or already purchased it yourself, you’ll need health coverage. If you got it through your spouse’s employer, you could continue it through the COBRA process for up to three years. This is probably pretty expensive, so you might just want it to be a bridge to more affordable coverage. One option may be an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan or a policy you buy from an insurance agent.
If you have kids and your ex-spouse gets medical benefits from work, maintaining that coverage is probably the best option. If not, COBRA or the ACA may be good options.
What’s Your Credit Score? Is it Getting Better or Worse?
Protecting your credit score will allow you to borrow money and get lines of credit at the lowest interest rate possible. Here are post-divorce steps you can take, according to AARP:
- Close joint accounts: Your ex-spouse may run up debts and be late with payments or not pay at all. Inform creditors of your divorce and that you’re not responsible for further debts.
- Get monthly statements: If joint accounts have outstanding balances, these statements will show you’re making timely payments.
- If you move, file a change of address notice with the U.S. Postal Service: If you don’t get a bill, you won’t pay it, and that will harm your credit score. If you pay bills online, getting monthly statements or changing your address won’t be issues.
- Use credit cards wisely: Don’t engage in binge “retail therapy” shopping if you feel depressed. You’ll only feel worse when you get the bill, and your credit score will suffer if you don’t make payments on time.
- Regularly check your credit reports: See if there are any errors or problems caused during your marriage or divorce. Take action if you find them.
- Freeze your credit files: Given your spouse knows your Social Security number and other critical information, you may fear they may engage in identity theft. If so, a credit freeze should prevent any new accounts from being opened in your name
Be proactive because preventing financial problems is easier than unwinding them after they happen.
Have You Updated Your Estate Planning?
If you had estate planning done during your marriage, you likely named each other as your primary beneficiaries. You probably don’t want your assets going to your ex now, though you may feel they can handle being a trustee for a trust that benefits your children. Make sure your estate plans accurately reflect your wishes.
Is Your Divorce Over, But You Still Need an Attorney?
We will fight to protect your interests and work to ensure you’re in the best position possible after your divorce is final. Contact Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., Attorneys at Law, for a free consultation so we can discuss your situation and how we can help.