5 Post-Divorce Actions to Take

After your divorce is finalized, you will most likely feel a deep sense of relief. We encourage you to take a few days to relish the completion of the process. After all the litigation or negotiations and emotional turmoil, you can now start the next chapter of your life.

But do not get too comfortable! Once the divorce proceeding and all provisions of your Judgment of Absolute Divorce are complete, you should also take the following actions as soon as possible to avoid potentially costly errors and the stress of a lingering to-do list.

1. Revise Your Estate Plan. After a divorce, most people no longer wish to have their former spouse designated as a beneficiary of their property upon their death. It is important to update your will with an attorney so that your former spouse and any other unwanted beneficiary designations are removed. That would include your retirement plans and life insurance policies. Be advised that the court will not presume error in the event of your failure to make these changes, and in the absence of these actions, your former spouse could receive substantial proceeds or cause protracted litigation for surviving family members. Your family will have a hard time winning a case in which the designations have not been modified by you.

2. Update Your Insurance Coverage. It is important to ensure that there are no lapses in your insurance coverage. Update health, dental, life, car, and homeowners insurance policies to reflect either a continuation of coverage or an entirely new plan. Please note that submitting evidence of the divorce decree enables former spouses to acquire a new medical plan without having to wait out the cycle time otherwise required by insurance companies.

3. Note Changes in Your Tax Returns. Single status affects income tax filing in a myriad of ways. The implications of no longer filing joint tax returns include deductions, exemptions, increased and decreased income assessments, gains, etc. Keep in mind that neither alimony nor child support payments are taxable or tax deductible. It is important to address and update your status immediately so as not to submit faulty returns and incur penalties. It is also important for budgeting purposes to best understand the disposable income net of your tax bill.

4. Create a Budget. After a divorce, expenses and even lifestyle will likely change significantly. Determining precisely how these changes will impact your finances requires time and concentration, but saves time and stress in the long haul. Use past credit cards and billing statements to project which expenses will continue and which have changed due to your newly single status and living arrangement. Prepping for this clearly and in advance of any surprises will make for the best start for your future.

5. Consult the Experts. Cultivate your own trusted network of experts to turn to for advice and best practices for your post-divorce transitions. Take the time to interview accountants, financial advisors, estate planning attorneys, mental health professionals, and other necessary experts. As new questions and life changes require experienced solutions, having your own carefully cultivated support system on hand will provide efficiency and reduce stress.

At TNS, we can help with follow-through on your post-judgment to-do list, including making sure debts are properly paid, divorce decrees are submitted to the appropriate organizations, and that titles are transferred from names on bank accounts and retirement accounts.

If you have questions about divorce, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.
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