Post-Divorce Checklist

This page summarizes the financial and legal steps you might want to take after your divorce is complete, as part of moving on with your life.

As you move on after your divorce, there’s a host of steps you may want to take. I’ve tried to assemble them in one convenient place. No single person will need to do all of these, but you may find one or two items you haven’t thought about.

I’m confident that I’ve left off things are important. As you spot them, please tell me about them. Thanks to Valerie for helping me pull this together.

  • Start with changing your name as part of your divorce decree. It’s free when you do it at this stage and will cost you money if you do it later.
  • Change your name with social security. Click here to go to Social Security’s web site to find out how to do it.
  • Change your driver’s license. The requirements of this will change from state to state,  but you’ll usually need to change your name with social security before you change it on the driver’s license.
  • Make sure that if there’s supposed to be a Qualified Domestic Relations Order done that it actually gets done. It’s easy to overlook this.
  • If your divorce decree calls for a quitclaim deed or statutory warranty deed, make sure that actually gets done too.
  • If the divorce decree calls for you to transfer title to one or more of your automobiles, go ahead and get that done.
  • Get your name (or your spouse’s name, as the case may be) off the joint bank account.
  • Get your name (or your spouse’s name, as the case may be) off the mortgage on the house.
  • Open a new checking account in your name. Be smart. Make the first check “1000” rather than “1.” That way it won’t be so apparent to merchants and others that it’s a brand new account.
  • Open a credit card in your name alone and actually use it to make a credit purchase. No need to go overboard on this, but it does make sense to build a record of using credit and using it wisely.
  • Make sure your auto insurance got changed over okay.
  • Make sure your health insurance is lined up and in place.
  • Make sure your life insurance is in place and that you actually ask for the proof from your ex that he or she has purchased required life insurance.
  • If you’re paying child support or alimony, get it set up so that it happens as a routine. If you’re paying through an income withholding order (IWO), make sure you pay directly until the IWO kicks in.
  • Execute a new will.
  • Live more simply.
  • Consider an announcement. Susan, fresh from her divorce, decided to send out an announcement to her friends with her new name. It was for her a cleansing and healing act. She saw it as declaring one chapter of her life closed and another wide open to new possibilities.
  • If you’re a woman living alone after a lengthy marriage, there’s some Guy Stuff you need to know about.
  • If you’re thinking about dating again, even if you’re not ready yet, there’s a page here for you on Dating After Divorce.

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