Divorce can be a long process. If the case is heavily litigated, it can take more than a year. I have even seen some cases take four or five years. In my experience, a lot of clients going through a divorce get so caught up in the process and getting the settlement or trial outcome that they want that they fail to plan for life after divorce.
Just because the judge has signed your divorce decree does not mean that your divorce is over. There are several steps to be performed to make sure your transition to a single life is as successful as possible.
- Make sure all closing documents get signed
Most divorces result in a property that needs to be transferred. Maybe one spouse is getting the home, and the other spouse receives the retirement account. When this happens, it will usually require other closing documents to be signed, such as deeds or qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs). Do not procrastinate in getting those documents signed. You want the assets you received in the divorce to be in your control as soon as possible. I have seen nightmare scenarios where a spouse never received property they were awarded in a divorce because closing documents were never drafted. Don’t let that happen to you. Make sure your attorney provides you with all the documents necessary to actually transfer the property you receive.
- Update Estate Planning Documents
I discussed why you should change your beneficiaries after divorce here. However, you should also update your remaining estate planning documents, including your will and any powers of attorney.
- Develop a Post-Divorce Financial Plan
Ideally, you should have begun a post-divorce financial plan when the divorce was filed. However, it better late than never.
One indisputable fact of divorce is that two households cost more to operate than one, but income often is unchanged. In a typical marriage, one party is in control of the finances, while the other party knows little or nothing about the estate. If you represent a party that does not know the finances, it can present a challenge. That spouse not only will need to learn what the estate consists of to make an informed decision, but that spouse will also probably need help in planning for his or her financial life during and after the divorce.
Many people (especially non-monied spouses) start their post-divorce lives not fully understanding that their settlement must last a significant amount of time…perhaps the rest of their lives. Financial planning can help people transition from a married to a single lifestyle by prioritizing financial goals, developing realistic expectations, and producing written plans for the allocation of financial resources. It is a good idea to with a financial planner to increase your bottom line after divorce as well.
If you have more questions about how to get ready for your life after divorce, contact me at Verner Brumley Mueller Parker. I can be reached by phone at (214) 225-6766 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.