How to “Decouple” After Divorce

After your divorce is finalized, you and your ex-spouse will be left to execute court-ordered agreements and begin the “decoupling” process. We encourage you to set aside some time to organize and separate your combined assets and involve experts when necessary.

Here are some things to consider while decoupling after your divorce.


Marital Home

If one party is remaining in the marital home as its sole owner according to the divorce agreement, immediately transfer ownership documents, loan documents, and utilities into the name of the resident ex-spouse. Do not forget that electricians, plumbers, landscapers, generator companies, etc. should be notified as to the new responsible financial party to avoid missing payments leading to lapses in critical services. 

Even if the home is to remain co-owned, the spouse residing in the home can no longer fully count on their ex to promptly pay bills pertaining to the residence’s expenses and optimal upkeep—which is relevant both for his or her living environment as well as his or her (likely largest) asset’s resale value. The resident spouse should contact all providers to ensure that notifications and bills are received by both parties.


Bank Accounts

Immediately close out all joint accounts, except for any that have been agreed to be utilized jointly for a specified purpose. The sooner this is effectuated post-divorce, the cleaner your finances will be. This process will also help you to budget properly and clearly, knowing that balances are solely yours and not subject to another’s debts or withdrawals.


Custodial Accounts for Children

Ensure to address which spouse will be managing the accounts of minor children so that no disputes hold up funds when a child needs access. This would not only cause potential delays in critical goods or services for a child but could also negatively impact a child’s stress level and emotional adjustment to the separation.


Brokerage Accounts

The division of brokerage accounts will not be as simple as bank accounts due to the potential transfer fees, tax ramifications, and valuation ambiguities associated with stocks. The creation of “mirror accounts” is often advised, effectively dividing the overall value of the account while triggering minimal penalties. While the substantive details of the division will have been addressed in your divorce agreement, it is important to contact your brokerage firm and fill out the necessary forms to split the holdings accordingly before significant gains, losses, or unfavorable tax penalties are accrued by either party.


Credit Cards

Settle your joint credit card balances with your ex as soon as possible. Then, agree upon when to remove your ex as an authorized user and close all joint accounts as soon as possible. This reduces the potential risk to your credit score should your ex forget to pay a bill or spend excessively.


Life Insurance

Remember to change your life insurance beneficiary designations immediately post-divorce. Bear in mind that upon a spouse’s death the court will not alter payouts merely from the evidence of a divorce decree. Changes must be made proactively to avoid your ex, or even their new partner or partner’s children, from ultimately receiving your death benefit instead of your children or other intended family members.


Trusts and Estates

Dig out and change your will beneficiaries and trustees/beneficiaries with your estate planning attorney according to the terms of your divorce agreement. This is easy to forget but critical to the proper disposition of your estate and familial goals down the road. As with life insurance policies, a surrogate will not alter a will because the deceased was divorced.


Bills and Debts

Take the time to log on to or call every service company used during the marriage to update the responsible party and mailing address on the accounts. This includes, but is not limited to, utilities, cell phone bills, streaming services, medical expenses, automobile, health and life insurance policy bills, and child-related expenses. Not only will this process save you time and headache later, but these changes can also preserve your credit score if your ex ignores bills sent to them.


Child-Related Expenses

If not explicitly addressed in your divorce agreement, communicate with your ex as to who will be the responsible financial party for each of your children’s needs and activities. This will keep each of your parenting responsibilities clear from the start, which will thwart ambiguity later. Most importantly, it will ensure that your children’s needs will be addressed expeditiously and free of familial strife.


School and Important Contacts for Children

Ensure that children’s schools, doctors, and important activities have both parents’ new contact information so that each parent is properly informed and involved without having to rely on their ex for information and updates. This will be best for the children and prevents one parent from feeling shut out post-divorce.


Search for Unknown Accounts

Often over many years, a couple has open accounts that have been forgotten. A credit search will uncover most of these accounts. It is wise to ensure that no lingering joint accounts remain. 

While this process will take organization, time, and some expertise, it will prevent unnecessary expense, inconvenience, and stress for all involved. The TNS attorneys can help effectuate the most expeditious and optimal decoupling plans and strategies.

If you need advice or representation related to divorce, please contact TNS Family Law at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of attorneys is here to help guide you.

Related Posts: 
Maryland Child Custody Laws
Division of Property in Maryland Divorce
Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement?
Maryland Divorce FAQs

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